Cages – David Mark

A dark past. A terrifying secret. A deadly game is about to begin . . .

Washed-up author Rufus Orton needs money. It’s the main reason he takes the gig teaching creative writing to inmates at HMP Holderness. That, and the flattery of prison officer Annabeth Harris, who contacted him out of the blue and begged him to take the job.

Annabeth loves Rufus’ work. Genuinely. She loves being a prison officer too. But Annabeth is keeping a secret. Fifteen years ago she did something bad, and if it ever comes out, her new, perfect life will be destroyed.

HMP resident Griffin Cox has no black marks against his name. He claims he’s been wrongly convicted of the sex offence that put him in prison. He’s lying. He has a plan – and everything hinges on him securing a place in the classroom with Rufus and Annabeth. It’s only then that the game can begin . . .

Dark, twisted and gripping, CAGES is an addictive psychological thriller from a “master” of the genre (Kirkus Reviews). If you enjoy disturbing, charismatic criminals like Hannibal Lector and Patrick Bateman, you’ll love Griffin Cox.

David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

His writing is heavily influenced by real life and have been universally praised for their originality, authenticity and heart. Industry bible Kirkus Reviews said that ‘to call David Mark’s novels police procedurals is like calling the Mona Lisa a pretty painting’. He has been championed by such industry luminaries as Val McDermid, Peter James, Mick Herron and Martina Cole.

He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, Scorched Earth and Cold Bones as well as two McAvoy novellas, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies, which are available as ebooks. His first historical thriller, The Zealot’s Bones, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. With publishers Severn House, he has written the critically-acclaimed The Mausoleum, A Rush of Blood, Borrowed Time and Suspicious Minds.

Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel (where he was Reader in Residence) and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Dead Pretty was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger in 2016, as was Cold Bones in 2019.

David’s Radio 4 drama, A Marriage of Inconvenience, aired last year. His first novel was adapted for the stage and was twice a sell-out smash in Hull. He has also written for the stage and has contributed articles and reviews to several national and international publications. He is a regular performer at literary festivals and is a sought-after public speaker. He also teaches creative writing

My Review:

This is my first book by David Mark and having met him several times at the annual Harrogate Crime Festival I really have no excuse for not reading his books sooner.

Cages is a standalone psychological thriller being published in May 2021 and I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy, so my thanks to his publishers.

Cages has 3 main characters; firstly there is Rufus Orton, a previously successful author who is now struggling to write another bestseller, mocked by his daughter, overlooked by his wife and ignores the reality of his problems by drinking too much. When he gets a offer of a short-term teaching job on a creative writing course at a prison, he has no option but to accept the role.

Annabeth Harris works in the prison, she is professional and ambitious and determined to improve the lives of the prisoners she looks after. She is also a huge fan of Rufus Orton previous books and invites him to teach at the prison. What the reader realises quite quickly is that Annabeth also has a dark secret and a past that she can’t allow to be made public ever.

Griffin Cox is the third character in Cages. He is serving his sentence as a VP (Vulnerable Prisoner) due to his horrific crimes and conviction as a sex offender. He is also currently being interviewed about a spate of missing children from years ago as a witness has come forward with connections to Cox. When he manages to get onto the creative writing course these 3 characters head towards a catastrophic collision course.

Cages is a very well written, cleverly crafted story with enough twists, turns, red herrings and surprises to keep fans of this genre riveted and eager to find out what happened. I’m off to download David Mark’s back catalogue now.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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