Since we play to much video game and less reading... what book have you read lately? or recommended? I reading this one... "Out" was first published in 1997 and won Japan's top mystery award. Everything about the setting of Natsuo Kirino's new novel Out is bleak. Set in Japan with four disillusioned and desperate women as the anti-heroines who work the graveyard shift in a boxed-lunch factory, there is little in the story that inspires hope or confidence. Each of the four has problems that threaten the life she has created for herself, and each life sits precariously on the edge of a precipice. When one of them snaps and murders her abusive and neglectful husband, she leans a little too far over the edge and by asking the others to help her dispose of the body, pulls them over with her. In the ensuing downward spiral of all the women they are joined by the man the police suspect for the murder, a wealthy but disturbed casino mogul, and a loan-shark with yakuza connections who discovers their secret. The novel's themes of murder, extortion, blackmail, rape and dismemberment create an absolute mess for the characters to find their way out of, and in the process they learn far more about themselves than they are comfortable with, especially their capacity for doing the undesirable. Although there is no real suspense or a twisting plot, this dark mystery makes for compelling reading. Its main difference from and appeal over other crime novels is that it's told primarily from the point of view of the culprits rather than the victims or detectives. The characters, with all their personal demons and failings, are described without judgement or attachment in a cold, factual tone which adds nothing to warm the novel, but is surprisingly effective. Their actions inspire a mixture of sympathy and contempt, all the while making you wonder exactly how you would react in their situation. The worrying thing is that given the parameters, the actions, which in some cases are truly abominable, seem to make sense. The only person with whom it was impossible to identify was the casino owner whose darkest past feeds the brutal ending to the story. Several times in the novel he is referred to as a monster, and without a doubt, Kirino has created one. Out provides a detailed look into the dark and dreary lives of otherwise ordinary people living in Tokyo, and is written with intelligence and an observant eye, but is ultimately a punch in the gut disguised as a lesson in human motivation and despair.