Paprika - exotic, piquant, to be used sparingly. The eponymous heroine of Tsutsui's novel is the alter ego of brilliant and beautiful psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba, one of the leading brains in the Institute for Psychiatric Research. An expert in the use of 'psychotherapy devices' that trap a patient's dreams and display them on a monitor, Atsuko is able to manipulate those dreams, even enter them, as an aid to psychoanalysis. When treating private patients, Atsuko transforms herself into the guise of Paprika - a captivating girl of unknown age - to mask her true identity.As Paprika delves ever deeper into her realm of fantasy, the borderline between dream and reality becomes increasingly blurred. All the more so when a colleague at the Institute develops a new device that allows the dreams of several individuals to be combined simultaneously. With this, they enter dangerous territory - far from curing their patients, they could drive them insane. Rich in humorous dialogue and ridiculous situations, replete with the folly of human desires, yet with an underlying sense of menace that 'all is not what it seems', Paprika could be described as the very pinnacle of Tsutsui's art.