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The Cage

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  152 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Kazuya Takino leads a quiet life running a supermarket in the Tokyo suburbs. But when an extortionist tries to force him out of business, he finds himself drawn into the yakuza underworld-a world he once called home and thought he had left behind. Pursuing him is Detective Takagi, an aficionado of French cigarettes and modernist poetry, the most decorated inspector on the ...more
232 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Vertical
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Nov 26, 2008 Drew rated it really liked it
This is the third book by Kenzo Kitakata that I’ve read, the first two being Ashes and Winter Sleep. Translated by Paul Warham, this book is a fitting addition to Kitakata’s works in English. The hardboiled styling of this book is more in line with 1990s Hong Kong action films rather than Japanese novels, but it makes the book a fast and enjoyable roller coaster ride.

The Cage continues in the style set up in these previous books, with the focus on two main characters, Kazuya Takino and Detective
Edwin Battistella
Sep 07, 2013 Edwin Battistella rated it liked it
The Cage by is Kenzo Kitakata’s 1983 novel about a yakuza gangster, recently (2006) translated from the Japanese. Kazuye Takino is a former gangster, running a supermarket owned by his invalid father-in-law. Through a combination of events and character he finds himself drawn back in and eventually encountering Detective Tagaki, a poetry reading, brandy drinking detective known as The Old Dog. It’s hardboiled, noirish fiction, which reminds me in some ways of Dashiell Hammett’s The Glass Key—the ...more
Mar 19, 2017 Nickoletta rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Oct 27, 2012 Debra rated it liked it
Supermarket owner, Kazuya Takino isn’t overly happy with his life. His marriage has grown stale and running a supermarket for the past five years is hardly a thrill a minute, especially for a man who once belonged to a gang. When dead rats show up in his freezers and red dye in the jugs of milk, Takino treats this as more of an annoyance than a catastrophe. He’s a resourceful guy and not one to back down from a fight. While he’s sorting out business problems, Takino takes a mistress and tries to ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Angel rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this since I do like hard crime and noir novels, but I found this to be pretty disappointing. The premise seemed so good-- former Yakuza gang member trying to go straight but getting pulled back into the life. Granted, it is a pretty simple premise, and it has been done before. However, if done well, it works. However, this novel just did not grab me. By the time I got to see the detective chasing the protagonist, I honestly did not really care. Takino is just a bit on the bland ...more
Mar 05, 2009 David rated it really liked it
The story of Takino, an ex-Yakuza who has settled into straight life running a supermarket and a coffee shop with his wife. Six years have passed since Takino left the gangster world, but when he squares off against a punk who has caused trouble in his store, Takino feels "a strange rush of something close to happiness." The old Takino has emerged from his cage--one of several metaphorical "cages" in the novel--and he knows at once that he does not want to go back inside. An interesting psycholo ...more
Made DNA
Mar 11, 2010 Made DNA rated it it was amazing
Takino has lead a quiet life for the past 6 years. He runs a small, local supermarket in Tokyo with his beautiful wife. But he used to be yakuza. When an extortion racket comes round demanding he sell his store and his land, Takino can't comprehend what the fuss is all about. When digs deeper, he digs himself into a hole from which there is no escape.

This is a brilliant noir crime novel set in 80s Japan. It's bleak and hardboiled. Well-paced, the book is a smooth read that builds to a crescendo
Robin Edman
Oct 30, 2011 Robin Edman rated it it was amazing
This is the most skillfully written/translated piece of crime fiction that I have read in a long time, possibly ever. A reformed yakuza walks quite deliberately back into the life for reasons that are not completely clear until the very last page. He is hunted by a man who is almost completely empty of any enjoyment of life beyond his ever-present Gauloise. You wouldn't think this could be a great story, but it is.
Adam Perry
Nov 25, 2012 Adam Perry rated it liked it
I read this book in bits and pieces over the course of a theater performance. The story itself was pretty well self contained. At the beginning it was hard to differentiate the characters from one another because of the japanese names, but as each character becomes more and more defined, it becomes easier. There was nothing particularly unexpected about this book, but the way it flowed and the way it pulled you along the way reflected not only an excellent author, but an excellent translator.
Feb 25, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2014
Hard-boiled Japanese contemporary crime. How can I not like this?
Takino is an ex-yakuza man who's trying to just run a supermarket in his new life, leaving the bad stuff from the past behind. But when local organized bad guys start to try to milk some protection money from him, that sets the action slowly in motion.
Hard-boiled in the super classic style - including a lot of whiskey too. But yet still very very Japanese, and with some very zen elements.
Jul 27, 2011 Cal rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, fiction
Well this was definitely written by a man for men. There is very little emotion in the book, and loads of violence and mistresses and action and golf. Can't say I enjoyed it too much since I like drama quite a bit.. still, if you're into this kind of book, it'd probably be perfect for you. I have to wonder if it feels exactly like this in the original japanese, but well....probably :D
Jun 17, 2015 Meredith rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who like a quick read with a few twists.
It was an entertaining novel, however, it was also fairly straight-laced. It's a nice, short, action novel; it's not one to look towards for a complex tapestry of plot lines. The characters were written well and each had their own quirks--the Old Dog quickly becoming a favorite. Overall, a decent go.
Rogue Reader
May 26, 2013 Rogue Reader rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-japan
Bad guy gone good outsmarts them all - corporations, thugs, pimps but can't escape the big one. Originally published in Japan in 1983, the noir seems more classical and more noirish than that period's big hair and glitter pop. Kenzo Kitakata deserves all of the awards he's received and more.

--Ashland Mystery

Apr 13, 2015 Clint rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This was pretty awesome, a fast-paced hard boiled yakuza noir romp with plenty of ultraviolence, a likable but seriously flawed protagonist, a suitably tragic ending and a great title that seriously ties into what the main character (and the cop chasing him, to a certain extent) are trapped with.
Jul 28, 2008 Noah rated it liked it
Was popping along quite nicely until the unimaginative and predictable ending ruined it. Yes, I know it's supposed to be hardboiled lit, but really, all the usual gritty poetry that ends most hardboiled stories was totally missing.
Esther Goh
Jul 14, 2014 Esther Goh rated it really liked it
Always very interesting to read translated books that you would otherwise not have a chance to read. Started out a little slow, but the pace certainly picked up and I was glued, anxious to know what happens all the way till the end.
Jul 01, 2008 melvinhiddenelder rated it it was amazing
One hell of a hardboiled novel! If you like noir, you will like this book. It's characters are fully realized, they are, but then again, are not predictable. It's fast pacing keeps you reading on towards an inescapable end.
Jim Coughenour
Jul 12, 2007 Jim Coughenour rated it it was amazing
Hardboiled Japanese crime, pairing Detective Takagi, a policeman with a taste for poetry and French cigarettes, against Kazuya Takino, a retired criminal who regretfully goes up against a Yakuza gang. Great bedtime reading with a shot of something strong.
Jul 23, 2011 Sae-chan rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-writers
The greatest cover I have in my bookshelf.

Hard-boiled at its hardest-boiled. What is your cage?

cold green tea
cold green tea rated it it was ok
Aug 12, 2008
Inesorabile rated it really liked it
Sep 27, 2011
Siggimaggi rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2016
Jessica rated it really liked it
Dec 30, 2015
Clark Smeltzer
Clark Smeltzer rated it liked it
Nov 24, 2007
Mike rated it it was amazing
May 21, 2013
denise rated it it was amazing
Nov 16, 2013
Tom Sullivan
Tom Sullivan rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2015
Kava rated it it was ok
Aug 28, 2007
Stan rated it liked it
Jun 20, 2011
Nancy Oakes
Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
May 07, 2014
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北方 謙三 was the 10th president of the Mystery Writers of Japan (1997-2001).
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