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Paper Cage

On sale

15th February 2024

Price: £18.99

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781399808118

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**Shortlisted for Ngaio Marsh Awards 2023**
*Shortlisted for The Ned Kelly Awards 2023*

‘Tom Baragwanath’s provocative first novel is riveting and shocking’ The Times

‘[A] magnetic debut . . . breathtakingly compelling’ Daily Mail

Masterton, New Zealand may be a small town, but its residents are certainly not united. Old resentments and the simmering tensions of race and culture divide the Maori and white inhabitants, with everyone keeping to their own patch of turf. But when local children start to go missing, vanishing between the cracks, accusations are hurled, and community relations reach boiling point.

Caught in the middle is Lorraine Henry. She works as a lowly records clerk at the police station amongst towering piles of paperwork, quietly making connections and remembering things that the cops would rather not. Solving cases is not part of her job, but when her great-nephew is the next to disappear, she must put her skills to the test as she is called in to help, all before time runs out for the children.

Both a nail-biting thriller and a beautifully written, acutely observed portrait of a community in crisis, Paper Cage is the award-winning debut from young New Zealand novelist Tom Baragwanath.

‘An astonishing debut [with] a wonderfully flawed central character . . . Such a standout novel’ James Oswald author of All That Lives

‘This literary thriller heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in New Zealand storytelling’ Fiona Sussman, author of The Doctor’s Wife

‘Tom Baragwanath has mastered the craft of literary crime’ Age


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
A tightly written, slow burning thriller . . . Baragwanath reveals a tight-knit community alive with prejudice, where patronising attitudes towards race bubble just below the surface
Fiona Sussman, author of THE DOCTOR'S WIFE
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
Gigi Fenster, author of A GOOD WINTER
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
Shelley Burr, author of WAKE
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
Danielle Bagnato, Books + Publishing
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
Readings Monthly
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
Great Escape Books
A thrilling, deep dive into community and what it means. Loved this new voice
Robert Goodman, Pile by the Bed
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
New Zealand Listener
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
Canberra Times
A compelling crime thriller
North & South
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
Set in the provincial town of Masterton, Baragwanath's debut is both social novel and thriller, spinning the tensions between the white and Maori populations, the chokehold of street gangs, and the toll of drug addiction on young families into a suspenseful crime drama . . . Just the kind of dark, disturbing, gritty, and unusual treat thriller lovers are looking for
James Oswald, author of ALL THAT LIVES
An astonishing debut [with] a wonderfully flawed central character . . . full of heart and determination. Excellently constructed . . . and all wrapped up in wonderfully flowing prose. Such a standout novel
Emma Styles, author of NO COUNTRY FOR GIRLS
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
Natalie Marlow, author of NEEDLESS ALLEY
A gripping and hauntingly beautiful exploration of a small town in crisis, offering deep insight into the human condition. A superb read
Publishers Weekly
In weaving together a lived-in portrait of small-town New Zealand with a truly crackling mystery, Baragwanath proves himself a writer to watch
Mark Wightman, author of CHASING THE DRAGON
A twisty thriller which provides us with a window into a riven community in small-town New Zealand where racial and cultural loyalties divide as much as they unite. Dark, gritty and beautifully written, Paper Cage is a triumph from first to last
Mark Sanderson, The Times
Tom Baragwanath's provocative first novel is riveting and shocking
Lisa Howells, Heat ****
A beautifully drawn literary thriller
The characters spring to life and don't let go their hold on you until well after you've read the last page of this extraordinary novel
Paul Burke, Crime Time
Paper Cage is the impressive debut novel from New Zealand writer Tom Baragwanath. The protagonist, Lorraine, is a proto-detective like you've not seen before and the themes couldn't be more relevant. This literary thriller is both a satisfying mystery and biting social critique; racism, victim blaming, misogyny, policing and generational differences all in focus. This is a dark, troubling and yet enriching read
Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail
Lorraine Henry lies at the heart of this magnetic debut . . . This beautifully constructed plot has already won awards, and it is easy to see why with a protagonist who is impossible not to root for . . . breathtakingly compelling
Air Mail
Tenderness and violence are always intersecting in Paper Cage . . . In this haunting, finely wrought book, Baragwanath illuminates the extraordinary strength of an ordinary woman
A propulsive thriller set against a tension-ridden small town; this one will have you gripped from beginning to end
Irish Times
Baragwanath is strong on the socio-economic conditions and unspoken racism that underpin Masterton's inequalities as he delivers a compellingly claustrophobic account of a community at war with itself
Crime Fiction Lover
Baragwanath's writing crackles with tension . . . Paper Cage is beautifully atmospheric and descriptive - often, hauntingly poetic
Wall Street Journal
When [the] violence erupts, it is shocking, and the book culminates in a thrilling and heroic sequence