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Lady Joker: Volume 2: The Million Copy Bestselling 'Masterpiece of Japanese Crime Fiction'

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This second half of Lady Joker, by Kaoru Takamura, the Grand Dame of Japanese crime fiction, concludes the breathtaking saga introduced in Volume One. About forty minutes ago, a white station wagon left Hinode’s Tokyo branch office in Shinjuku. And just now, the station wagon arrived at a certain place in the middle of Koto district.” Lady Joker’ was originally published as ‘Redi jōkā’ in Japan in 1997 and was translated from the Japanese by Marie Iida and Allison Markin Powell. Both volumes open with a handy Dramatis Personae.

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This is a huge novel, one to get lost in. As a western reader, the world described is quite foreign: the importance of organisations and companies, the different strata of Japanese society, the influence of the underworld, and the machinations of the political system. As I wrote in my review of volume 1, there is no explanatory glossary. I have come to the conclusion that I could live with out one, just immersed myself in this recognisable but slightly strange world. A sealed letter. In a business envelope. It was thrown inside the front gate of their Kyoto factory this morning.” Kaoru Takamura was born in Osaka in 1953 and is the author of thirteen novels. Her debut, Grab the Money and Run, won the 1990 Japan Mystery and Suspense Grand Prize, and since then her work has been recognized with many of Japan’s most prestigious awards for literary fiction as well as for crime fiction: the Naoki Prize, the Noma Literary Award, the Yomiuri Prize, the Shinran Prize, the Jiro Osaragi Prize, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, and the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize. Lady Joker, her first novel to be translated into English, received the Mainichi Arts Award and has been adapted into both a film and a television series.That’s the best I can do, sorry.” His source cut off there, but Kubo could guess that the white station wagon with the payload would leave from either Hinode’s main office, its Tokyo branch, Yokohama branch, or the Kanagawa factory, and they’d know which if they staked out all the possible locations. So long as it took place within the city limits of Tokyo’s twenty-three districts, the driver would only be able to go so fast on local streets or the highway, making it possible for them to tail the vehicle if they knew which one it was. One of Japan’s great modern writers, this second half of Lady Joker brings Kaoru Takamura’s breathtaking masterpiece to a gripping conclusion. A novel that portrays withdevastating immensityhow those on the dark fringes of society can be consumed by the darkness of their own hearts.”

LADY JOKER, VOLUME 2 | Kirkus Reviews

They want six hundred million in used bills. The handoff will take place at eleven p.m. on the ninth. A white station wagon will be used to transport the money. Only one person in the car. Location will be somewhere in Koto district. That’s all I can tell you.” Inspired by the real-life Glico-Morinaga kidnapping, an unsolved case that terrorized Japan for two years, Lady Joker reimagines this watershed episode in modern Japanese history. I heard that a letter demanding six hundred million was delivered to the Kyoto factory yesterday morning.”This second half of Lady Joker, by Kaoru Takamura, the Grand Dame of Japanese crime fiction, concludes the breathtaking saga introduced in Volume I. As far as the police force is concerned, to print such things in a newspaper would amount to a malicious obstruction of our investigation. Besides, no matter how you were to write about it, there would be no way to avoid its having a negative impact on Hinode’s business activities. Freedom of the press only reaches so far.” This is the most complete crime story I have read in years. Greed, extortion, murder, disappearances, corruption and criminal gangs are all part of this vast epic that forms around one main crime – the kidnapping of the president and CEO of Hinode Beer by five societal outsiders whose only connection is a shared love of horse racing. In Lady Joker volume 1, we read of the development and unfolding of the plot and the immediate aftermath. Lady Joker volume 2 follows the investigation into the kidnapping over the course of the following year.

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