The Cat in the Coffin

“Lala… Lala, is that you?”

The Cat in the Coffin

By Mariko Koike

Translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm
Paperback, 192 pages, 5.5 x 7.5 inches
U.S.$14.95 / CAN$17.50

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Recently widowed Goro Kawakubo, the dashing son of a famous artist, hires an au pair, Masayo, to care for his eight-year-old daughter, Momoko. Momoko’s only companion is her cat, Lala. Masayo quickly falls in love with Goro’s lifestyle and then the widower himself. One fateful night, Goro meets the gorgeous Chinatsu, who soon becomes his girlfriend. Masayo is tormented with jealousy but can do nothing but watch.

Meanwhile, young Momoko demonstrates increasingly macabre tendencies, further retreating into a world only she and her cat occupy. As Chinatsu tries to win over the potential stepdaughter’s affections, she realizes she must compete with Lala; and Chinatsu hates cats. The tension between the women in Goro’s home climaxes with a shocking act of femme fatale vengeance.

Koike’s trademark blend of traditional romance and suspense turns the happy-ending formula of love stories on its head with an added jolt of intrigue and mystery.

Mariko Koike Mariko Koike was born in 1952 in Tokyo. After graduating from Seikei University, she published Friends of the Wife in 1989 and won the Japan Detective Fiction Writers Award for Best Short Story Collection. In 1995, she won the Naoki Prize for Love, and in 1998 won a Romance Fiction Award for Desire. Koike is the only writer in Japan to be lauded by both the romance and detective communities for her hybrid works.


“Though the intrigue of the story itself is enough to keep readers hooked, Koike likewise satiates her readers with a consideration of the unique situation in which her characters live.”
World Literature Today

“[The Cat in the Coffin] has an oppressive, eerie quality that lends itself to several tantalizing readings… I’d love to see Vertical translate more work by Mariko Koike, as she brings an uncommon level of wisdom and literary sophistication to a humble genre.”
The Manga Critic

“Koike is an adept storyteller, and The Cat in the Coffin is richly descriptive and well paced, constantly tantalizing the reader with glimpses of facts whose full import only later becomes apparent.”
Metropolis magazine

Coffin lets you see evil everywhere and nowhere, but there is no cop-out ending where everyone is equally guilty and therefore no one should be blamed. It’s more sinister—or, to use the word that comes most readily to mind, dastardly.”
Genji Press

“One of the best mystery novel build-ups I've ever read.”
Tokyo Mango