cover image The Night of Baba Yaga

The Night of Baba Yaga

Akira Otani, trans. from the Japanese by Sam Bett. Soho Crime, $27.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-64129-491-1

A young woman falls in love with a crime boss’s daughter in Otani’s gripping English-language debut. In 1979 Tokyo, 22-year-old Yoriko Shindo is kidnapped by yakuza boss Genzo Naiki. He offers her a deal: if she agrees to be the bodyguard and chauffeur for his teenage daughter, Shoko, he’ll let her live. The sheltered and aloof Shokoinitially shows no interest in Shindo, but they slowly develop a connection as the only women in their testosterone-fueled world. When a smitten Shindo learns more about Shoko's troubles—her mother’s mysterious disappearance, her upcoming arranged marriage to a sadistic yakuza enforcer—she resolves to help set the teenager free. In a Thelma & Louise–style act of desperation, the pair goes on the run, both knowing full well that they won’t be able to evade Naiki and his henchmen for long. Otani’s artful, staccato sentences, deftly translated by Bett, draw readers in, and an unexpected time-jump midway through the novel gives it an ingenious jolt of life. This tender yet furious crime saga will leave readers hungry for more from Otani soon. Agent: Naomi Mizuno, Tuttle-Mori Agency. (July)