Our reviewers were caught out when asked to come up with their short-lists for the best books of 2009. A list? No problem. A catalog, even, if you please. But a limit of just three recommendations each was tantamount to censorship. From Jake Adelstein’s blockbuster underworld expose, “Tokyo Vice,” to long awaited translations of noir master Edogawa Rampo and lyrical mythologist Mieko Kanai, dazzling new fiction, and on through a fascinating glut of cultural and historical investigations, the year gave bookworms plenty of fertile ground to burrow into. So, which ones made the cut?

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