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Kotaro Isaka hitman books in order: the complete series

There are plenty of Kotaro Isaka fans who might not even know his name – his novels have been the basis for beloved films like 2022’s Bullet Train and, in his native Japan, the 2015 revenge thriller film Grasshopper – but there are even more for whom the name is already a promise of top-quality, white-knuckle thrillers.

His standalone novel published in English, Remote Control, was a hit, but it’s Isaka’s Hitman series that he’s most famous for. Below, we’ve arranged the famous trilogy in order, so fans can read them the right way.

Looking for more top crime books set in Japan?Check out our recommendations here!

Kotaro Isaka’s Hitman series in order:

Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka

1. Three Assassins (2022)

Suzuki is just your average maths teacher – but when his wife is suddenly murdered, everything changes, and he flees his ordinary life in search of the people behind it. What he finds is a gang of assassins that he must infiltrate in order to avenge his wife, but the true question is whether he can maintain his innocence against a backdrop so violent. First published in Japan in 2004 under the title Grasshopper, the book is now newly available in English.

Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka

2. Bullet Train (2021)

Innocent-looking yet violent Satoshi has put Kimura’s son in a coma – and now he’s going to pay for it. The plan is to deal his revenge on the bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka, but Kimura finds more afoot there than anticipated: not just assassin Nanao and deadly duo Tangerine and Lemon, but a suitcase full of money that’s drawing new dangers into the melee. The primary question in this most famous of Isaka’s novels (originally published in 2010 as Maria Beetle in Japan, and the inspiration for 2022 blockbuster Bullet Train) is simple: who will be left alive at the end of the journey?

The Mantis by Kotaro Isaka

3. The Mantis (2023)

Kabuto visits his doctor more than the average patient, and no wonder: he’s stressed at work, and his wife and son are a handful, too. Oh, and because his ‘doctor’ is secretly ‘prescribing’ him assignments: Kabuto is a hired assassin. After so many years in the murder game, he wants out, but leaving isn’t simple. To pay his way out, he’ll have to take down one of his most difficult targets yet, and it may just put his family in danger too…

There you have it – Kotaro Isaka’s books in order! Can’t wait for book 4 in the series? Let us know in the comments below…

Books Like Kotaro Isaka:

Image credit: Munemasa Takahashi

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