Drowning Fish

All hell breaks loose when threatening notes arrive at a major conglomerate. The notes contain no reference to money. The only demand in the notes is that the executives humiliate themselves in public. Who sent the notes? What are they really after? The Drowning Fish is for mystery readers who like a little slapstick and mayhem along with their corporate crime, bureaucratic intrigue, and underworld violence.
AuthorKeita Tokaji
ISBN978 - 4101248318
CategoryLiterature & Fiction
PublicationDecember, 2000
Estimated length436P
Size150 × 106 mm
Two suspended detectives are ordered to conduct a secret surveillance of an officer under suspicion in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. The two detectives are promised immunity from prosecution for their work. The Daito Group, a conglomerate, has hired the suspected officer to identify someone called "Drowning Fish" who is sending threatening notes to the company. The notes demand that Daito Group executives walk on a busy street, dressed in outlandish outfits, and subject themselves to public humiliation. The senior managing director of Daito had problems with some modern artists several months before. He also has had dealings with gangsters and doesn't hesitate to use violence to solve company problems. All of this turns into a wild rollercoaster ride when the two detectives begin unraveling the intertwined relationships of the artists, the suspected officer and a company executive. Drowning Fish is for mystery readers who like some humorous situations along with their corporate wring doing, bureaucratic corruption, and gangland violence.

Drowning Fish (Oboreru Sakana) became a movie of the same name and was released in Japan in 2001 with Ken Watanabe ("Sayuri," "Batman Begins," "The Last Samurai") cast as a senior police officer. The movie won two awards: the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Actor of 2001 (Yosuke Kubozuka) and the Mainichi Film Concours for Best Supporting Actor of 2003 (Shinya Tsukamoto).


The first few chapters give the impression that this book is a serious work of mystery dealing with police misconduct and threats to a legitimate large company. After that, the story develops with action-filled violence. It is outrageous and slapstick. The police officers in this story are flawed, and their flaws make them seem all the more real as we know that most real-life police officers are not like the heroes in conventional police dramas. The police officers of the Inspection Office in this story are more intent on protecting their own interests than cracking down on misconduct. This should arouse indignation from the public under normal circumstances but Tokaji depicts a world so violent that readers will feel that the police officers' unlawful actions are, In fact, justifiable. Reading this story is like watching Quentin Tarantino film.

Submitted by Tokuko Iguchi

About the Author

Keita Tokaji was born in Tokyo in 1968. He graduated from the Department of Psychology of Gakushuin University. He was a self-proclaimed musician before he wrote his first book, "Yami no rakuen" (Paradise in the Dark). After this book won the Shincho Mystery Club Award in 1998, Tokaji gave up music to become a full time writer. Since then he has written many books including "Reimi," "Gangster Drive," "Outlimit," and "Mikakunin Kazoku" (Unidentified Family). Because of his eccentric style, he was once described as Japan's "Guy Ritchie." In addition to "Oboreru Sakana," there are two other movie adaptations of his books: "Gokinjo tantei TOMOE" (Neighborhood Detective TOMOE) and "Outlimit." Lately, Tokaji has been making short films based on the short stories in his books, "Tokajinof" and "Tokajungo."


PublicationJanuary, 2000