Miyabe does not seem to suffer of Hollywood cop envy--very unlike Beat Takeshi in his "violent cop" variations. Miyabe's main character, the temporary disabled policeman Honma, is a very Japanese cop, moving through the pages with calm and precise (pedantic?) police work. The novel is an excellent, moody euro-style mystery in the fashion of Simenon. But there is very little of the "new" japan promised by the back cover. Rather, the co-protagonist is the suffocating bureaucracy of the old Japan.
What bothered me about the book is the similitude with some "educational" Manga -- see for instance Shotaro Ishinomori's work published in the US in Japan inc. . Like in Ishinomori's strip, Miyabe stops the narration of the facts with long digressions about the Japanese economic situation. It's definitely interesting and it's all good, but it considerably slows down the rythm. Possibly the biggest disappointment however has been the fact that the "contemporary Japan" portrayed is actually ancient history: while US edition of the book came out in 1999, the novel is from 1992, and while Japanese economy has been depressed all along, quite a few things have been changing, for instance in the woman condition (see for instance by Japanese Woman by Sumiko Iwao).
Overall nice novel, but why publishing something so dated? I understand Ms. Miyabe has quite a following in her native country, I'm sure starting with more current work might better introduce her to the English language readers.