Recently widowed Goro Kawakubo, the dashing son of a famous artist, hires an au pair, Masayo, to care for his eight-year-old daughter, Momoko. Momoko’s only companion is her cat, Lala. Masayo quickly falls in love with Goro’s lifestyle and then the widower himself. One fateful night, Goro meets the gorgeous Chinatsu, who soon becomes his girlfriend. Masayo is tormented with jealousy but can do nothing but watch.
Meanwhile, young Momoko demonstrates increasingly macabre tendencies, further retreating into a world only she and her cat occupy. As Chinatsu tries to win over the potential stepdaughter’s affections, she realizes she must compete with Lala; and Chinatsu hates cats. The tension between the women in Goro’s home climaxes with a shocking act of femme fatale vengeance.
Koike’s trademark blend of traditional romance and suspense turns the happy-ending formula of love stories on its head with an added jolt of intrigue and mystery.
Mariko Koike was born in 1952 in Tokyo. After graduating from Seikei University, she published Friends of the Wife in 1989 and won the Japan Detective Fiction Writers Award for Best Short Story Collection. In 1995, she won the Naoki Prize for Love, and in 1998 won a Romance Fiction Award for Desire. Koike is the only writer in Japan to be lauded by both the romance and detective communities for her hybrid works.