Masterton isn’t a big town. The community’s tight, if not always harmonious. So when a child goes missing it’s a big deal for everyone. And when a second kid disappears, the whole town’s holding their own children that little bit tighter.
Lorraine doesn’t have kids, but she has a nephew. She’s holding him a bit tighter, too, because she works for the police, and she knows they don’t have any idea.
Lo’s not a cop, she’s a records clerk. She sits out back among the piles of paper, making connections, remembering things. Working things out that the actual cops don’t want to hear about.
Until the new investigator, Hayes, arrives from Wellington, and realises Lo’s the only person there with answers to any of his questions. Which is just as well—because the clock is running down for the children of the town.
Both a nail-biting thriller and a beautifully written, acutely observed portrait of a community, Paper Cage is the prize-winning debut from young New Zealand novelist Tom Baragwanath.
‘Expansive in its reach, and stunningly singular in its detail, this literary thriller heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in New Zealand storytelling.’
‘Paper Cage has all the sharp points of a great crime story and all the tragedy of ordinary lives hit hard. I couldn’t put it down.’
‘I really enjoyed Paper Cage. Its world feels real and its characters and relationships drew me in. Lorraine Henry is a refreshingly different crime fiction protagonist.’
‘A compelling mystery and an atmospheric dive into small-town psychology…Tom Baragwanath has mastered the craft of literary crime: this is well-paced and vividly written detective fiction with a Chandleresque grittiness to its depiction of a community in crisis.’
‘Thrilling…Lorraine is a perfect heroine: she’s tough, unflinching and gets the job done…A gritty crime novel that has all the fun literary techniques of a thriller with an added layer of feminist commentary.’
‘Aotearoa/New Zealand…has a rich history of crime writing, with huge names such as Ngaio Marsh, Alan Carter and Paul Thomas producing some fabulous reads over the last century. To this stable we can add newcomer Tom Baragwanath.’
‘A tightly written, slow burning thriller…One senses there’s much more to come from Baragwanath. He’s a fascinating talent and one to watch.’
‘A thrilling, deep dive into community and what it means. Loved this new voice.’
‘This novel does what great crime fiction does—brings a community, with all of its complexities, to life—and while doing so deals with entrenched and persistent issues of colonialism, sexism and ageing in a way that is both absorbing and thought-provoking.’
‘Just the kind of dark, disturbing, gritty, and unusual treat thriller lovers are looking for.’
‘A perfectly pitched and plotted cracker of a debut…The author’s observations are as clear-eyed and intelligent as his endearingly down-to-earth [protagonist] Lorraine.’
‘A compelling crime thriller.’
‘An ambitious mystery that uses the form to make some trenchant statements about contemporary society…All the essential elements of the genre are here and turned to use in exploring the bigger issues.’
‘Cleverly paced, putting Lo and her world at the centre of the action, Paper Cage is a character-driven crime novel with a visceral sense of place and community and a solid plot. Author Baragwanath has incorporated institutional racism, prejudice, social deprivation, and good people just trying to get ahead into a storyline that’s very engaging, without papering over the obvious cracks in the world he is describing.’
‘A stylishly written missing kids mystery, a compelling window on a fractured community, and a cast of characters I was fully invested in. Paper Cage is an impressive debut.‘
‘A stylishly written missing kids mystery, a compelling window on a fractured community, and a cast of characters I was fully invested in. Paper Cage is an impressive debut.’