One of my books, Queenpin, will be coming out in France in a few months. The title, alas, is untranslatable in many languages, the word itself an obscure bit of American slang. When it was published in Italy, the publisher, Edizioni BD, decided not to translate it at all. The French publisher, Editions du Masque, has gone with Adieu, Gloria, which is kind of a great title, I think (“Gloria” is the name of the queenpin in question).
It’s funny that there really isn’t a common word for a female crime lord (crimelady?), because, of course, even in English, “queenpin” is mostly an invention (in fact, it was the wonderful writer Al Guthrie who gifted me with the title).
I was happy, though, to see that the word is in fact in Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, my favorite slang dictionary ever:
queen pin n. [1960s+] The female equivalent of kingpin, i.e., a woman who heads an institution or arranges an event.
Which is kind of a funny definition (arranges an event?), but one that’s hard to argue with. The World Book Dictionary, in turn, defines it as “the most important woman in a group” …