Street orphan Reseng is rescued by nuns, then adopted by Old Raccoon, the owner of a sensational private library. Being in possession of a library, or being a librarian for that matter, is not a measure of respectability, which is the case with Old Raccoon, whose friends are a strange and nefarious group of people. It is in the Library of Dogs where assassinations are planned. There are syndicates of professionals who organize assassins for hire, and the syndicates are in competition with each other--they are the plotters. From the time he was a child Reseng was groomed to be one of the hitman, but In a rare moment of introspection, as he is about to kill someone, he reflects about what his life might be like if he were not an assassin. At one point he thinks that the life of an assassin is, " ... a cowardly life. Any life spent not asking yourself what you truly loved was a cowardly one." He hesitates to pull the trigger, falls asleep in his tent in the forest, and is awakened by footsteps. It is the very man he was supposed to kill, who invites Reseng in for an evening meal. Will Reseng change his mind about killing someone who has welcomed him into their home?
Reseng wants to find an alternative life, but does not know how to evade the plotters and Old Raccoon, and the web of professionals. It is not until he meets three young women: a store clerk, her disabled sister who moves about with great care in a wheelchair, and a cross-eyed librarian. They are trying to stage a counter-offensive to stop the accepted killings as a means for the government to maintain control,and to stop government corruption.
This darkly comic satire is also a complicated surreal action thriller, and is the first English translation of a novel by Un-Su Kim. Although the main subject may seem to be about political assassination, there is a good deal more implicit social and political critiquing than other novels featuring assassins.