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Bored with her clerical job, Kanako Oba (aka Edie Otgurl), a thirty-year-old divorcée responds to an online ad: "Driver. Pay 300,000 yen. Entails some risk." Hired by a couple to be the driver of the getaway car in a cash heist, she soon finds herself entangled in a nightmarish world, gets nabbed by a gang of men and is about to be buried alive in a hole she herself has dug, when an unidentified benefactor pays for her deliverance. She is taken to a diner named Canteen, a members-only eatery for hit men. Bombero, the proprietor, is a former hit man turned master chef; Kanako is to work as his waitress under the condition that if she disobeys him she will be killed on the spot.
Famous for its signature hamburgers in particular and its delectable gourmet menu in general, the shop is patronized by a parade of idiosyncratic assassins, among them Kid, who dresses up as a child and specializes in killing children; and Skin, whose face is crisscrossed by the tracks of his many wounds, said to have cumulatively required more than a thousand stitches. Bombero and his Canteen are under the protection of the Mafia, but then a suspicion arises that there may be a traitor or undercover agent in their midst in connection with a former mob boss's death.
Can Kanako survive the deadly clientele and brewing mob civil war in order to earn her freedom and find her true vocation? Tarantino meets King in this made-for-the-big-screen suspense by Japan's premier horror/crime writer.
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Yumeaki Hirayama (b. 1961) is the author of 10 novels and short-story collections. He states that the grotesque descriptions he makes his stock in trade derive from having witnessed repeated suicide jumpers and traffic accidents as an adolescent. He continued on to college after high school, but preferred to spend his time making homemade horror movies, and eventually dropped out. As a writer, he got his start reviewing Z-grade movies for a weekly magazine, and in 1993 became a regular contributor to a series of "true horror" volumes. His debut as a novelist came in 1996 with the psycho-thriller SINKER--Shizumu mono (Sinker). In 2006 he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Short Stories with Dokuhaku suru yunibasaru yoko merukatoru (Confessions of a Universal Transverse Mercator Map), and his collection of the same title took first place in the 2007 "This Mystery is Amazing!" (Konomys) rankings. In 2009 he won the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize for Daina (Diner); this title also earned him the prestigious Oyabu Haruhiko Prize in 2011 for hardboiled crime fiction.
Among his other works are the short-story collections Missile Man and An Outsider's Death, and the novel The Melchior Atrocity.
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