THE BLACK CAGE by Jack Fredrickson


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Who could possibly be more compromised and more jaundiced than rarely employed Chicago shamus Dek Elstrom (Tagged for Murder, 2018, etc.)? Only Milo Rigg, the disgraced investigative reporter who anchors Fredrickson’s new series.

Fifteen months ago, Rigg pushed a little too hard against Cook County Deputy Jerome Glet for moving the bodies at an earlier crime scene in order to arrange a better photo op for himself. That crime—the murders of young Bobby Stemec and John and Anthony Henderson—still hasn’t been solved, and the recently widowed Rigg’s attempts to console former exotic dancer Carlotta Henderson, mother of two of the victims, have been widely assumed to extend to an affair that got him banished from the Chicago Examiner to its suburban magazine, the Pink. So neither Rigg nor Glet is pleased when they run into each other at an unpleasantly similar crime scene at Devil’s Creek, where teenage sisters Beatrice and Priscilla Graves have been found naked and dead from unknown causes. Glet’s boss, Cook County Sheriff Joe Lehman, fastens on Richie Fernandez, a machine operator and dishwasher who knew the Graves girls, as his top suspect but insists that he hasn’t arrested Fernandez, who’s gone missing. At length Rigg digs up a pair of witnesses to the arrest, but shortly after the Pink runs the story, a search for the witnesses comes up empty, putting Rigg in hot water that feels awfully familiar. As he deals with his memories of his murdered wife, the avatars of the local law, and Luther Donovan, the wealthy developer intent on squeezing every dollar out of the Examiner before he tosses it away, Rigg finds only two possible sources of consolation: his unlikely liaison with Aria Gamble, the glamorous features reporter who’s been exiled to the Pink along with him, and the fact that so many suspects and antagonists are dying all around him.

The mystery takes a back seat to the hero’s scorched-earth battles with authority figures more powerful than he is.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8916-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2019


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