The Cage (DI Tom McAllister #1), by Scott Mariani

Eight stars

Scott Mariani‘s writing tends to be highly addictive, at least many of the novels I have taken the time to read. While he has dazzled readers for years with his collection of Ben Hope novels, he’s taken a break to pen this novel with a new protagonist. Tom McAllister is a cop with a lot to prove, but also a large case filling up all his time. Using the tools he has at his disposal, DI McAllister will have to crack the case wide open or worry about keeping his job in this captivating series debut. Mariani fans ought to take note and see what they think.

Detective Inspector Tom McAllister has a great deal to prove working in Oxfordshire. He is a cop who does not do well colouring between the lines and has a pile of reprimands to show for it. When he’s assigned a new case, he puts himself in to the middle of it, if only to show that he is an asset to the team and not simply one who likes to rough up those he encounters. Someone has been killing recently released sexual offenders, as if sending a message to those who prey on young children.

While DI McAllister tries to work through all the facts, the community is highly divided. Some want this killer caught and brought to justice, while others think the vigilante deserves a hero’s welcome. DI McAllister must sift through all the evidence and speak to those who knew the victims to get a better understanding of who they were and what commonalities, besides the obvious, exist. All the while, the killings continue and the media are serving the local police up on a silver platter as incompetent louts.

While DI McAllister works to piece it all together, the killer lurks off to the side, with a plan all their own. Worse than the targeted killings that continue to occur is the significance of The Cage, which adds a new layer of depravity and concern for these pedophile and likely also DI McAllister. A chilling story that shows how versatile Scott Mariani can be. Perfect for his fans and those who want a stunning new series to follow.

Admittedly, I was not sure what to think when I saw this book hit the market. I had been so devoted and focussed on the work of Scott Mariani as he crafted countless Ben Hope thrillers. However, this book, listed as the first in a series, caught my attention, as I wondered if Ben Hope could stand to the side and DI Tom McAllister could rise to the occasion, giving readers a bang for their buck. Mariani weaves a story that is both highly transitional and well-grounded. Mariani uses his skills effectively and provides a stunning piece that forces the reader to take a side, both of which have their weaknesses. While I am reluctant to stray from what I know, particularly when an author has pulled me in over so many novels, I am eager to see where this series is headed.

Scott Mariani has long held my attention with his thrillers and yet there is something about this new book that has me wanting more. It could be the strong narrative abilities Mariani has woven into the story or even the great characters who emerge throughout, but I am hooked and need to know how DI Tom McAllister will work his way through things. Plot turns through the story emerge and keep the reader guessing, without getting too over the top. I admit, it is difficult not to try comparing Hope to McAllister, but they are so different and yet appear as though they might complement one another well. I will keep my eyes open for more DI McAllister, but trust Ben Hope is not on his way out.

Kudos, Mr. Mariani, for making a believer out of me. What do you have in store for your fans next, other than more Hope adventures?