Cover Image: The Black Cage

The Black Cage

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Member Reviews

Its over two years since Milo Rigg's wife was killed and his career as a journalist hit the skids due to his obsession with the murders of three teenagers .
Now Milo is working part time for a lowly suburban supplement - the sort that is usually thrown away with trash - its a living but not one he enjoys .
But now more bodies have been found - what is their connection to the original case ? - Milo can't help himself and now he back on his game , determined to solve the cases . Who can he trust - not the Police , his paper is not exactly supportive - is he himself at risk ?

This was a story full of angst , twists and turns , with a man seeking redemption for his perceived failure in solving his wife's death .   

I was given an arc of this book by the Publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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A little over two years ago the wife of Milo Rigg, Chicago's premier crime reporter, was killed by a random gang-banger's bullet. The murder was never solved. Milo swallowed his grief by obsessing on the murders of three teenaged boys, exposing the systemic incompetence of the resulting investigation, embarrassing local authorities, accumulating twenty-six boxes of notes and files before ultimately losing his objectivity and floundering into his own career ruining scandal. The murder was never solved.
Fifteen months later Milo is working part-time writing uncredited pieces for a lowly suburban supplement, the kind of throw-away paper usually found near the exit doors of a grocery store next to real estate fliers. It would be a stretch to say that Milo is enjoying his banishment but it's an existence if not a living. 

Then more bodies start showing up. Murders that may be connected to the original case. And Milo can't help himself, he's back in!

The Black Cage by Jack Fredrickson is a first rate mystery/suspense novel. It's a slow burning page turner. Not fast paced so much as written with a sense of urgency. Things are happening, bad things, dark things, things that need to be stopped - and soon! 

The plot unfolds piece by piece. A little bit over here but, hmm, what does that mean? A larger part here but somehow it... just doesn't seem to fit. How is that possible? Until, like a jigsaw puzzle that is jumbled then suddenly snaps into focus when two large sections are joined together, a single connecting piece begins to reveal the big picture. Except, unlike the puzzle on your kitchen table it's not a puppy or a field of daisies... It's a killer.

I highly recommend The Black Cage to anyone who enjoys a good dark mystery. It's very accessible to most all readers. Right at the edge of noir but not quite as gritty or bleak as that label would suggest. I will be at the front of the line for Book Two in the Milo Rigg series, if it's as good as this one I may just stay in line waiting for the third.

There's a bit of strong language, some violence and adult situations. Not enough to stick out in my mind but I know there was some there. Let's just say that The Black Cage contains story appropriate imagery that isn't excessive.

***Thanks to NetGalley, Severn House Publishers, and author Jack Fredrickson for providing me with a free digital copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. Loved it!
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Crime Reporter Milo Rigg is back .... and asking lots of uncomfortable questions. That's what cost him his job before.

Three young boys were brutally killed a year ago. Their killer has never been caught. Milo was reporting at the time and citing the ineffectiveness of the local police. Milo was also accused of having an affair with one of the boys' mother.

Today, two young sisters, along with a friend have been found dead in a ravine. There are many disturbing similarities.

Has a serial killer returned?

Milo is reporting and investigating, but it's hard to know who to trust .... cops are corrupt .. his own newspaper doesn't exactly back him. And what he discovers may cost him his job again ... or his death.

This is the first in a gripping new mystery series. Extremely well written, this one kept me riveted from the very first page to the explosive unpredictable ending. All the characters have been deftly drawn and bring a lot of credibility to this well paced crime fiction.

Many thanks to the author / Severn House Publishers / Netgalley for the digital copy of this crime mystery. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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I was drawn to this after seeing a post by author Michael Wiley. He was reading it and asked why others were not. I had not come across this author; I am so pleased for the chance recommendation, for this is a terrific book.
While it will not appeal to all, especially to those not already fans of US crime thrillers. It was right up my street which has been known to be bordered by sidewalks. It reads like a novel from 20th century crime fiction. Yet it is set in a very modern Chicago.
It is more about style and pace and the layers of mystery that surrounds the police investigation in The Black Cage. For PI, Jack Fredrickson has a newspaper journalist taking on that role. Even the account of Chicago’s three great print publications losing readership to instant internet news seems to take the story back a generation.
Milo Rigg lost his way and his place as Chicago’s number one crime reporter when he scathingly criticised the investigation into the deaths of three young teenagers. He was brutal in his rhetoric, condemning an inept Sheriff and clueless medical examiner. But he was brought down through personal tragedy and empathy to the mother grieving the loss of her murdered boys. He got too close and his paper binned him to a subsidiary title to write about social activities and community events.
When the bodies of two young girls are found, Milo cannot keep away; there are similarities with the unsolved case which he has never been able to let go and which disturbs his sleep like a black cage.

This is a strong and well conceived story about how law enforcement can make mistakes and lose their way. Held to account by thorough journalism the truth will never be left to rest while a murder walks free and may now have become a serial killer.
It seems only Milo initially fights for justice and is prepared to hold departments to account. He will not be silenced although his reporting has in part been marginalised. As more deaths are discovered his voice is increasingly listened to and others step up their game. However, the closer he gets to the killer’s identity his own safety is brought into stark reality, someone out there will seek to discredit him and perhaps silence him forever.
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Milo is a damaged man- he's lost his wife and his job and he's not a happy camper because he's still convinced there was something bad about the police investigation of the murder of three young boys. When the frozen bodies of two young girls are found, he's committed to finding out what happened, even if he's meant to be covering grocery store openings and the police won't talk to him.  His determination to get the truth alienates even more people but you know, don't you, that he's right.  He's a good character and making him a journalist added a nice angle.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A good read.
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Milo has lost a job and a wife in too short of a time. He is a man with demons and nightmares of arms behind a black cage reaching out to him. The nightmares leave him shaken and frustrated.

His career dropped when he exposed the botched up investigation into the murder of three boys near Chicago. He pushed hard and ended up alienating the police and the press, who demoted him to the local rag.

Now more bodies are appearing and this time Milo isn't going to blow it. He wants justice for these children and hopefully, redemption for himself.

This was an edge of your seat book! I changed my mind on who every other page! A great pace and characters so despicable I was hoping quite a few would be chopped.

This is the beginning of a new series and I want them all. Now. A great introduction to Severn House if you haven't given their writers a chance.

NetGalley/  February 4th, 2020 by Severn House Publishers
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First Sentence:  The color had been sucked from everything, not just the dead.  This is not the first time the bodies of naked kids have been found by the water. The last time, known as the Stemec Henderson murders, were three boys. The position of the girls was the same.

Milo Rigg is a reporter who's lost his byline due to perceived inappropriate behavior while on his last story.  Still working in a city where police corruption is the norm, on a paper at the edge of going under, submitting his stories under his boss's name, and suffering nightmares about his late wife, the old case comes alive when new bodies are discovered.  Now, with a new boss, and new clues, Rigg is determined to follow the story to the killer and to regain his reputation.

If one has previously read Fredrickson, this is a book darker in tone and emotion than his previous works, and that's not a bad thing as it's always nice to see an author stretch. The introduction to Milo through his interaction with senior sheriff's deputy Jerome Glet is very effective. As a character, Milo stands out.  Fredrickson makes one feel the pain of his loss, both personally and professionally, his frustration with his job, the demise of print newspapers overall, and the corruption and ineptitude of the police.  Without words, one feels the turmoil of Milo's emotions--There was no 'before' to it, no past.  It was still all so damned present." 

Fredrickson's descriptions are evocative.  They perfectly reflect the tragedy of the scene--"Snow began to fall in big wet flakes, like tiny shrouds descending to cover the horror of what had been found there."  One is very effectively drawn into the story by hints, traces of things; by intriguing references to people, places, and events. 

The inclusion of the news articles, along with Milo having other small stories to write, adds realism to the story and provides details in a concise manner without filling space with exposition.  Fredrickson accurately, and sadly, conveys what has happened to print newspapers--"...the third floor, the reporters' floor, was now a ghost town. Half the cubicles were empty... People no longer read the ink of the news; ... they wanted that in tiny bits on screens that they could delete in an instant if it was too upsetting or demanded too much concentration..."

The increase in tension is subtle and very well done.  There is one point where one may think they understand what is happening and suspicions arise.  It's best, to trust Milo and follow along as he builds scenarios, setting out to prove, or disprove them.

Milo's recurring dream of the black cage is a constant theme.  However, the reveal of the association is both anti-climactic but strangely satisfying. There are a lot of characters, but Fredrickson is very good at reminding one of who each character is and their role.  The plot twists are well-timed and very effective.

"The Black Cage" has a startling climax, an excellent final twist, a nice tie-up, and a strangely bittersweet ending. It's important to note that, although dealing with the deaths of children, the story is not gruesome in that the murders happen off-page and are a fait accompli when one learns of them.  The beginning of a new series, Milo is a character one looks forward following into upcoming books.

THE BLACK CAGE (Journ-Milo Rigg-Illinois/Indiana-Contemp) - VG
 Fredrickson, Jack - 1st of series
 Severn House - Feb 2020
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This is a new author to me but the start of a new series so quite a good time to give him a spin! On the back of what I just read I will definitely be checking out some if his other books.
In this opener, we meet journalist Milo Rigg. Having previously exposed the inadequacies of the police in the, still unsolved, investigation into the murder of three boys, he finds his reputation in tatters. He spend his days covering social issues for a lesser publication.
But his reporting days are not over when the frozen bodies of two young sisters are exposed after a thaw. There are similarities between this and the deaths of the boys and Milo has never let that go. Determined to get to the truth once and for all he risks everything to go all in. Asking uncomfortable questions and working out intricate details he is soon catapulted into the limelight once again. Until that is, he appears to be getting to close to the truth...
As with all good characters that go all out to achieve whatever is necessary, Milo is wounded. His dreams of a lost love, a black cage, haunt his every waking moment too. He's still suffering his loss, evident in the way he lives. But these hauntings compete with those of the murdered boys. Will solving this case kill or cure him of all the rest of his suffering? That said, I took to him from the off and, well, pretty much suffered alongside him for the duration of the book. Against the odds, against the world too occasionally. But tenacious to the last and using all the contacts he has, following his intuition to join the dots up to get to the truth. He's definitely a very clever chap.
Plotting was tight and pacing was good. Other characters were also well drawn and each played their parts well. Descriptive elements of the narrative complemented what was going on rather than distracting from it and the right amount of information was imparted at the right times to both keep me interested and need to know what happened next. And the ending when it came was wholly satisfying. I long ago gave up trying to work it all out for myself. I just sat back and let Milo get on with it!
All in all a cracking opener to a series that I am looking forward to more from. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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Just finished reading this and well done Mr Fredrickson.  Well done for this very satisfying read.  Good characters, a sterling plot and well written.  Says it all really but that is just not enough.

This is the first in a new series featuring crime Milo Rigg and we are introduced to him as he has been demoted from his role as crime reporter on one of the top three papers in Chicago so that he now covers store openings, or boy scouts meetings – that obviously requires top notch reporter skills with the requisite salary.  We learn a bit about Milo and his background and how he has landed in this position.  When two girls (sisters) bodies are found, naked and frozen it brings to mind the murders of three young boys a few months earlier.  Milo is mindful of the sloppy investigation of those murders and is determined that it will not happen again.

What follows is a brilliant puzzle - which in all honesty I struggled to keep up with – Milo was always miles before me.  As to the end – ah that would be telling.  My powers of deduction did glance over an important observation, but it faded away until the very end – when I thought, I nearly go it!

Good book.  Great character; I liked the laid back Milo, always thinking, always just thinking it all through.

Thank you to the author, publishers and NetGalley for providing an ARC via my Kindle in return for an honest review.
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Intense with a good fell this is not a cozy. Although involved and complex the author's compelling writing makes all the twists easy to follow. Intelligent and very different in the way characters interact.  The reporter and certain police work toward the truth among so many others who want to keep the low
Thank you netgalley and the publisher for this arc
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The black cage by Jack fredrickson.

Crime reporter Milo Rigg must uncover a brutal serial killer to restore his battered reputation in this first in a gripping new mystery series.

Exposing the botched murder investigation of three young boys has left Milo Rigg's reputation and career as a crime-reporting journalist in tatters. But when the naked, frozen bodies of two young sisters, Priscilla and Beatrice Graves, are found down a ravine in Chicago months later, there are disturbing similarities. Are the two cases linked, and could this be Milo's chance to right the wrongs of the past?

Restored to his former reporter role, Milo is back – and he’s asking uncomfortable questions again. Confronted with deception and corruption at every turn, can Milo uncover the identity of a ruthless serial killer and finally rid himself of the black cage that threatens to consume him?

A good read with likeable characters.  Found a little slow but I read it. 3*.
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