Grey Men

The US may be months removed from the last election period and now more than a year away from Occupy Wall Street, but globally, as we see in Spain and across Europe unemployment and the social net are weighing heavy on the minds of millions across the world. And Vertical’s latest novel, Gray Men, details the plight of disenfranchised as they take back control of their own lives.

A fast-paced tale of revenge and empowerment, heinous crimes and heartless criminals—all set in contemporary Japan in the age of Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street, and the Arab Spring. The story reveals the frustration and anger being felt by Japan’s younger generation, and how this is causing them to question everything that’s been taken for granted for decades — the politicians, the social hierarchy, the corporate culture, even the yakuza.

The book starts off by introducing a young man who’s decided to kill himself because he can’t stand being bullied anymore. Before Ryotaro can find a place to die, however, he’s confronted by a mysterious figure dressed all in gray. Ryotaro is talked out of taking his own life, and is recruited by Gray to help in a jewel heist, which will let him avenge the abuses he’s suffered. But as Ryotaro soon learns, Gray’s plan is more than just one simple robbery. It’s part of an elaborate scheme to take away from the “haves” and redistribute wealth and power to the “have-nots.”

Gray Men is as up-to-the-minute as a Twitter feed. But if Gray also reminds you of classic crusaders like Robin Hood or the Count of Monte Cristo, it’s not just a coincidence. Author Tomotake Ishikawa says that his writing has been influenced by such master storytellers as Alexandre Dumas.