Today, we will be reviewing a popular Japanese novel titled Lady Joker Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura and translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida. The novel is about a kidnapping, how we get there, and what happens after. Keep reading to find out if you should read this novel next!
Lady Joker Volume 1 Summary
In 1947, Hinode Beer factory, located in Kanagawa, lays off some of its workers. One of the workers that is laid off, Seiji Okamura, writes a letter to Hinode Beer, questioning their motives and critiquing the company. This letter shows up decades later that and changes the fate of the company.
A couple of suicides in 1990 begin a chain of events that lead to the kidnapping of Hinode’s president, Kyosuke Shiroyama. He is abducted from his home and is tied up and blindfolded for three days. After three days, he is released and the kidnappers tell him that they will contact him later to pay the ransom, holding Hinode’s beer as hostage.
The story follows the characters that end up kidnapping Shiroyama and what led them to that moment. Volume one focuses on the motives and we see the consequences of it near the end of the novel. The story continues in Volume 2 which follows the aftermath of the kidnapping.
The novel is based on a kidnapping case that took place in Japan in 1984. First published in 1997, the novel was translated in 2021 and is taught in schools in Japan. Takamura has won numerous awards such as Mystery Writers of Japan Award, the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize, the Naoki Prize.
If you love mystery novels, then this is a must read. The writing is brilliant and the attention to detail is unparalleled. There are a lot of characters in this novel yet Takamura makes them all come to life. You can understand the essence of who they are and what drives them.
While this novel is a mystery novel, at its core, it is about people and the city of Japan. We meet all kinds of people from the everyday company man to the elite class that run companies that everyone knows. Takamura does a great job showcasing different class and race, different roles in society, inequality, and how years of pain can add up and bursting, and the consequences of it.
While I read a lot of mystery novels, I haven’t read many Japanese novels. The culture, writing style, and various other things are different. Yet, it is a fun experience coming across them and seeing the similarities and differences.
But at the end of the day, it boils down to amazing writing and this novel does just that. Takamura’s novel is a page-turner and as you see the everyday lives of the characters, you understand why they do what they do.
This book is a must read for every mystery lover. I will be reading the second volume of this book and can’t wait to see how Takamura wraps up this brilliant two-part series. Happy reading!