Kotaro Isaka’s Thriller ‘The Mantis’ Shortlisted for CWA Daggers; Author Previously Nominated for ‘Bullet Train’

The cover of “Ax” (“The Mantis”) by Kotaro Isaka

Kotaro Isaka’s novel “Ax” (“The Mantis”) has been shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, part of the CWA Daggers, according to Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association, which made the announcement via its website on May 10.

Six works have been shortlisted for the award, and the winning title is set to be announced on July 4 British time.

The CWA Daggers are internationally renowned awards, and no Japanese author has ever won one. The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award is for outstanding thrillers, including spy and adventure fiction.

“The Mantis” tells the story of a skillful but henpecked assassin and his family. The novel was first published by Kadokawa in Japan in 2017. In 2022, “Maria Beetle” (“Bullet Train”), another of Isaka’s novels, was also shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation, though it was unable to claim the prize.

“I felt the same way when my work was nominated in the translation category, but it’s like a dream come true to get shortlisted for a Dagger, which ever since I started reading mysteries has always felt like this amazing award from a faraway land,” Isaka, 52, said in a statement.