Out - Natsuo Kirino, Stephen Snyder This is both a riveting and gruesome crime novel and a stark and realistic look at the working class and especially the role of women in our society. I can't really say how realistic it is regarding the Japanese society since I know little about that but my guess is that it is devastatingly accurate. Certainly I know there is plenty here that the working and lower class American worker can relate to. And that is where the title comes in. The four women that the plot evolves around want a way out of the endless toil and heartless relationships they are trapped in. A "accidental" murder gives them hope for a way out but eventually just pulls them tighter and deeper into the seamy Tokyo underground. There are no all good or all bad characters in this novel. They all have weaknesses and strengths and manage to either fail or succeed by how they react to these strengths and weaknesses. Even the worst character in the story, Satake, a man whose past actions at torturing and raping a female victim opens a deep perverted longing in him, has something in him that is too human for pure hatred. I might not want to have a drink with him but I can feel sympathy for him. Masako is the main woman in the novel and she is the one I rooted for. She is cold but strong, manipulative yet caring, a truly three dimensional protagonist that makes this tale so moving. But don't forget this is a crime novel and is sometimes very close to horror fiction. Often it resembles a literary car crash, even if a superbly written one; you don't want to read but you cannot stop. If nothing else, you will leave with the knowledge on how to dismember a body should that ever become necessary.