cover image Lady Joker, Volume 1

Lady Joker, Volume 1

Kaoru Takamura, trans. from the Japanese by Marie Iida and Allison Markin Powell. Soho Crime, $28.95 (600p) ISBN 978-1-61695-701-8

Takamura makes her English-language debut with an excellent crime novel centered on a kidnapping. In 1995, Kyosuke Shiroyama, the head of one of Japan’s leading companies, Hinode Beer, is snatched from his home by a criminal or criminals, who leave a message simply reading “we have your president.” A massive police inquiry ensues, which focuses on ascertaining who might have an axe to grind against the company. The investigators probe a possible connection to events from 1990, when a dentist, after his son died, accused Hinode of improperly denying his child employment. Between that accusation and the abduction, various characters from a wide range of society are introduced, including a truck driver, a lathe operator, a banker, and a disgraced cop, who eventually unite in plotting Shiroyama’s kidnapping. This approach raises the emotional stakes leading up to the crime and its aftermath, though the resolution awaits the second volume. Readers open to delaying gratification will be hooked. Takamura shows why she’s one of Japan’s most prominent mystery novelists. Agent: Chigusa Ogino, Tuttle-Mori (Japan). (Apr.)