Bottom Line First:
Murakami is not for those who want the usual in their story telling. Much of the story line is very conventional. A somewhat disaffected, somewhat successful Ad man is dealing with divorce and the dislocations from his youth that happens in the modern world. Suddenly he enters a world of super powerful, threatening men who coerce him into quest for, not the Golden Fleece, but the living sheep with a star on its back. This is very early Murakami. It lacks some of the higher polish of his later works but is free of almost all of his more recent conventions. This makes for an easier read and a more direct story line. Because I have come to admire this writer, I recommend it as a good place to start a reading relationship with a master teller of oddball stories.
I first came into contact with Haruki Murakami via his book 1Q84 (Vintage International). This is a great novel, but I later found that it was based on conventions he had developed several books earlier. My admiration was reduced by the thought that the latter book was not as inventive as I had originally believed.
What I should have done, and recommend to others is that you attempt to read his books in order This was difficult to do because he had been reluctant to authorize English editions of his early works. A Wild Sheep Chase is the third book of his Trilogy of the Rat. It was the first that I was easily able to acquire. The good news is that books one and two are now available in one buy: Wind/Pinball: Two novels. Hear the Wind Song is also his first book. So win/win.
It is tricky to define what kind of books Murakami writes. The simple answer is fiction. His fiction tends to include traditional Japanese elements. There is a Spirit world, not always friendly to humans but not evil. As in other Murakami books there are references to a jazz club. (Murakami began his working life managing a jazz club. There are what will become common references to Western styles, food and music. There are parts that might be magic or science fiction and people can have extra real sensitivities.
Our Central character, usually described as a Phillip Marlow matter of fact kind of person has as his girlfriend, a woman who is an ear model and is only beautiful when she exposes her ears. She is also capable of hearing signs and portents.
This being the end of the trilogy, there are references to a number of characters that we have to accept absent a deep understanding of why they matter to our sheep chaser. However, the book works well as a standalone.
A Wild Sheep Chase was for me a change to begin to see a fine story teller in hs early years. I will be going back again to get the rest of this trilogy. My recommendation to you is that Haruki Murakami weaves not just stories but a world. Murakami world is slightly removed from ours. It is a rich and complex world and worth your reading time.