Self is crushing the reading list, this first month of 2023. Her next book is a Japanese crime novel, her first by Kaoru Takamura: Lady Joker, volume two, translated from the Japanese by Marie Iida and Allison Markin Powell.
Takamura is a crime novelist who is well-known in her native Japan. She has written thirteen novels, and has won the Japan Mystery and Suspense Grand Prize, the Naoki Prize, the Noma Literary Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, the Shinran Prize, the Jiro Orasagi Prize, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, and the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize. Her first novel to be translated into English was Lady Joker, which received the Mainichi Arts Award.
The first character to really catch self’s interest, 14 pages in, is Yuichiro Goda. Here’s how he’s described in the list of Dramatis Personae:
- MPD, First Investigation Division, Third Violent Crime Investigation Team, Seventh Unit. Later joins Criminal Investigation Division, Violent Crime Unit at Omori Police Department, Assistant Police Inspector
He’s been given the responsibility of guarding Kyosuke Shiroyama, President and CEO of Hinode Beer, who’s the target of an extortion attempt by the gang known as the Lady Joker.
- As far as Shiroyama could tell, however, under his apparent neutrality Goda’s eyes displayed subtle shades of darkness — wondering what that prudent gaze saw, three steps behind him, made Shiroyama feel, if not uncomfortable, then at least unsettled. From Goda’s outward appearance or manner, Shiroyama had no inkling whether he had seen Shiroyama pick up the envelope on his lawn the day before yesterday, that morning when they first met. Just this very morning, in the car on the way to the office, Shiroyama had tried to trick him into talking about it by musing why the criminals had not appeared, but Goda, with a momentary pause, merely replied, “I’ve been instructed only to act as your guard, sir.”
Ah! A laconic leading man. Nice!