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Even though it's only been out a month, Paper Cage has become one of the more talked about books. Tom Baragwanath's debut works both as a character and social driven thriller. The result is a new crime fiction voice with promise.

Baragwanath finds the right heroine to travel through his plot and thematics. Lorraine Henry, a cop widow, fills her life working as a file clerk at the police station in her town of Masterson, New Zealand, drinking gin with her neighbor, Patty, and helping her half Maori niece care for her son Bradley. When. two seperate kidnappings of Maori children occur, the police appear to have their hands tied. Then Bradley becomes the third victim.

With help of an outside investigator, Lorraine through the middle and lower classes of her town. She comes up against gangs and the police, as the kidnappings increase the already existent friction between the indigenous and whites. As the truth gets closer, she uncovers dark secrets on both sides of the law.

The book creates a great sense of community. He is able to draw believable yet colorful characters, even if they just appear on one page. He captures the worklife of the police station and the gang members prove to be as human as they are menacing. We feel like we could get around in Masterson. and care about it.

Paper Cage has the feel and tone of a good season of an Acorn or PBS Mystery TV series. It investigates society, human behavior, and morality as much as the crime with a flawed and likable protagonist wading through it all. I'm curious to see what Mr. Baragwanath does next.


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