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In her native Japan, Kaoru Takamura has won nearly every major mystery award, sold over one million copies of her cerebral and sophisticated books, and had her work adapted for film and TV. In 1993, she was honored with the Mystery Writers of Japan Award. But it wasn’t until 2021 that Lady Joker, her magnum opus, was released in English for the first time, with a translation by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida. Based on a real-life corporate kidnapping case, the 1997 crime novel follows a ragtag group of five conspirators who are fed up with corporate greed and the cards they’ve been dealt in life. They abduct the president of a prominent beer company and hold him for ransom, forcing corrupt financiers to finally pay up. The kaleidoscopic heist story spans across two volumes in its English translation and serves as a psychological study, capitalistic critique, and social commentary all in one. —Meg Zukin

Buy Now: Lady Joker, Volume 1 on Bookshop | Amazon | Lady Joker, Volume 2 on Bookshop | Amazon

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