Caged

Caged

FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair hunts for evil in the deepest recesses of the human mind. Still reeling from the death of her fiance, she wants nothing more than to focus on her research into the brains of serial killers. But when the Washington D.C. police stumble upon a gruesome murder scene involving a girl who'd been slowly starved to death while held captive in a cage...

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Title:Caged
Author:Ellison Cooper
Rating:

Caged Reviews

  • Julie

    This book really captures all the crime TV vibes... think Criminal Mind, which is one of my favorite shows so major win for me.  If you too are a fan of shows such as this than CAGED need to make its way into your life as soon as humanly possible. Ellison Cooper being a debut novelist came as a bit of a surprise to me. Her writing is clean, and the story line flowed with ease. What set Ellison apart is that the events that take place within this story are gore to the core, but are logic and not

    This book really captures all the crime TV vibes... think Criminal Mind, which is one of my favorite shows so major win for me.  If you too are a fan of shows such as this than CAGED need to make its way into your life as soon as humanly possible. Ellison Cooper being a debut novelist came as a bit of a surprise to me. Her writing is clean, and the story line flowed with ease. What set Ellison apart is that the events that take place within this story are gore to the core, but are logic and not a complete stretch of the imagination. There is just the right amount of thrills, gore, and electrifying suspense.

    What a mind trick Ellison Cooper plays on her reader! There were SO many times that I thought I was on to who the sociopath committing all these murders was, and while I did catch on before the reveal, it was shocking it took me as long as it did with all the subtle clues that I had missed.  I also am a sucker for novels with a strong female lead and CAGED most certainly has just that with our main female detective, Sayer. I kind of wish this was a series because I ended this wanting to continue stalking out serial killers with Sayer. 

    Front start to finish this novel had me captivated. There was not a moment where I wanted to pause the action that just kept elevating all the way to its satisfying ending. While I wish that there was further elaboration on the topic in which this novel ends, it was a satisfying cliffhanger. This ending will leave you pleading for more. I cannot wait to get my hands on whatever Ellison releases next. I'll leave you with this passage from CAGED where I feel Ellison described her very own book perfectly :

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  • Laura Rash

    This was really different. A new twist to a detective thriller with a “bad guy” I didn’t guess after assuming the whole time I had it figured out early on. This kind of eludes to another book & I’m hoping that is so.

    Thanks to Minotaur for this early copy:)

  • Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)

    I flew through this book in about 3ish hours. I also did this as a buddy read with a friend on Instagram and it has been really fun to have someone to talk to about this!

    Sayer is an FBI Agent. She has had a rough past: her parents died in an accident and her fiancee was shot and killed on an FBI mission. One day she's called into a crime scene and they found a girl who has been starved to death and is in a cage as well as an animal with her. From here th

    I flew through this book in about 3ish hours. I also did this as a buddy read with a friend on Instagram and it has been really fun to have someone to talk to about this!

    Sayer is an FBI Agent. She has had a rough past: her parents died in an accident and her fiancee was shot and killed on an FBI mission. One day she's called into a crime scene and they found a girl who has been starved to death and is in a cage as well as an animal with her. From here the investigation begins..

    The victim is then identified as a high profile senator's daughter and the media is having a frenzy. The FBI is sweating not knowing who is doing the killings. The team goes through a ton of suspects and has a lot of DNA to back it up, however they start to put the pieces together that something is not adding up. Things are getting leaked minutes after they are discovered and documents are starting to get mishandled. Is this a job of someone inside the team?

    This book is a crime thriller and I haven't read many crime thrillers before. I was totally engrossed in this the entire time. It's a really fast read so if you're looking for something to fly through. I personally enjoy a fast paced book so this was right up my alley!

    What I loved about this book was that I thought I predicted the ending but it took a twist right at the very end. I thought I had pinned the character who had done the killings but I ended up being wrong. I really enjoyed the way the chapters ended in this book and that they were short. I felt like at each end of the chapter the author made a character announce that they may have found a new development and this made me want to continue to keep on reading. It's exactly what I enjoy in my thrillers. I also enjoyed the deep dive into the human brain and what characteristics can tell us what we are capable of.

    This was my first read by Ellison Cooper and I would definitely read more. I suggest if you like crime thrillers to pick this one up. It came out on July 10th!

  • Sarah Joint

    Instead of being your run of the mill detective, Sayer is a neuroscientist with the FBI. She holds a special interest in serial killers... more specifically, the brains of serial killers. She's working on proving a theory, but it's not working out quite as well as she had hoped. We're all used to damaged female detectives, but Cooper adds enough to Sayer to make her feel fresh while still relying on the tragic pa

    Instead of being your run of the mill detective, Sayer is a neuroscientist with the FBI. She holds a special interest in serial killers... more specifically, the brains of serial killers. She's working on proving a theory, but it's not working out quite as well as she had hoped. We're all used to damaged female detectives, but Cooper adds enough to Sayer to make her feel fresh while still relying on the tragic past authors often use. I think this is an impressive debut. It certainly kept me reading, and my guesses about the ending were dead wrong.

    But this case won't go away until it's solved: the young woman was the daughter of a politician.

    Sayer is uniquely qualified for the case, and is pulled from her work trying to prove her serial killer theory to solve it. Just as the pressure from the public reaches a breaking point, they discover another girl has been taken. Since the first young woman suffered for quite some time, they have a chance of finding her... even if she's in a cage, wishing she were dead. Will they get to her before it's too late?

    There was a lot here I liked! I found the main character to be really interesting. Her co-workers need to be fleshed out more, and I hope they will be in the next book. That's right - hopefully we will get more of Sayer! I'm down to read the next book for sure. I can only hope it'll keep me on the edge of my seat as much as this one. I also particularly enjoyed the legends from different cultures represented. And if you add in some lovable animals to any book, it's going to make me like it just a little bit more. (I know, that doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the storyline, but you'll see.)

  • Dee Arr

    I was doing well, enjoying “Caged” and guessing along with the agents who the killer might be and what could be done to save the next potential victim. Unfortunately, the one thing I hoped wouldn’t happen, happened.

    The story is very good, and the cast of characters have enough separation of personalities to keep them from blending together. The main character, Sayer, has personal issues that wind into her life without overshadowing the action (which is a welcome change from many of the special

    I was doing well, enjoying “Caged” and guessing along with the agents who the killer might be and what could be done to save the next potential victim. Unfortunately, the one thing I hoped wouldn’t happen, happened.

    The story is very good, and the cast of characters have enough separation of personalities to keep them from blending together. The main character, Sayer, has personal issues that wind into her life without overshadowing the action (which is a welcome change from many of the special agent/detective novels on the market). While the serial killer idea has been done, author Ellison Cooper adds a few twists that make this story her own.

    What I suspected might happen to the plot direction suddenly became more reality than fear. Like all readers, I enjoy when the author can devise a twist that is totally unexpected yet still makes sense. In her attempt to fool the reader, Ms. Cooper has elevated this story to the fantastic (as in unreal) level, forcing me to accept a possibility that frays the last remaining strands of my belief structure. Could this story happen? Maybe…possibly…then again…

    What kept me reading until the end (and why I will recommend this book) is that despite the plot twist, Ms. Cooper’s writing saves the story from becoming a crash-and-burn. All the pieces tie together neatly, justifying the killer’s identity and providing an ending that, while unrealistic, still appears logical. The author even drops clues along the way, daring us to guess (good luck to you, I wasn’t even close).

    Bottom Line: “Caged” is an enjoyable, satisfactory read, a crime thriller that will wrap you up in its structure and force you to keep reading until the last page. Even with the issue I described above, it is impossible to give this book less than four stars.

    My thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for a complimentary advance copy of this book.

  • Krystin Rachel

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    Okay, here’s my issue: I really over-hyped myself for this one.

    I heard “police procedural” and “FBI agent” and “serial killer” and just lost my ever-loving crime fiction booknerd mind, expecting to fall rapidly in love with this; for it to be everything I need a book with those descriptors to be. I consciously recognized that I was doing it, in the moment, and I made a decision to allow myself be hyped for this. Which in any other circumstance, would have been against my better

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    Okay, here’s my issue: I really over-hyped myself for this one.

    I heard “police procedural” and “FBI agent” and “serial killer” and just lost my ever-loving crime fiction booknerd mind, expecting to fall rapidly in love with this; for it to be everything I need a book with those descriptors to be. I consciously recognized that I was doing it, in the moment, and I made a decision to allow myself be hyped for this. Which in any other circumstance, would have been against my better judgement.

    …and almost immediately once I started reading, I needed to readjust my expectations because I knew I would be massively disappointed otherwise.

    So no, this was not the mind blowing read I wanted it to be. BUT it was still good and I’m definitely on board for this as a series.

    It has a very dark atmosphere with a

    vibe. Profilers and some bureaucracy, but mostly disturbing puzzles that need solving. And this completely connected with me, bringing together a lot of my favourite things, especially the psychology behind murder.

    It’s heavy on the procedural, medium on the twists (focused on the science side of the evidence, and less on physical events) and low thrills. But that’s pretty typical for procedurals.

    There are some explosions, traps and tricks and disturbing content – namely puppies and kittens in danger that will definitely stir your feels if you are anything like me.

    Speaking of… let’s talk about that for a second. Because what is WRONG WITH ME?

    Like, I’m already in therapy so obviously this is not an issue that’s getting fixed.

    The serial killer is as looney-tunes as they come, doing some “experiments” that were definitely an elevated, original take on serial killer motivation that I found super interesting and occasionally disturbing.

    With a main character who is a neuroscientist, serial killings that rely heavily on science, and evidence that requires a PhD to figure out, this book does a really job at breaking those things down into bite size nuggets that us laymen readers can better digest.

    If it wasn’t for my husband’s obsession with going into the Peru jungle to do ayahuasca, I wouldn’t have known about DMT and the effects. Seriously, I know way more about psychedelics than I ever really wanted to. I guess that’s what happens when you marry someone who lists Terence McKenna among his heros.

    This book started off with a huge bang, no pun intended. It was dark and twisty – just how I like it – totally out of the blue, and I really wish the book had kept more of those kinds of surprises coming without relying on the same concept over and over again. There was an element of danger at first, that then became predictable the further into the story you got, so the suspense of the danger dissipated.

    Also, I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of Sayer just yet. I like that she’s a smart, fierce doctor who has a mean streak and comes with some heavy baggage. And I like that she’s a PoC running the team, being in charge and looking to make advancements in science. But, she immediately rubbed me the wrong way with how she treats a puppy from a crime scene.

    I know that might sound stupid, but I honestly don’t trust people who do not like animals. Although she eventually warmed to the dog, her first reaction to a helpless animal was

    and that stuck with me the whole time.

    The Curse of the Bad First Impression.

    Is that a Nancy Drew novel?

    I also found Sayer lacked humour and was pretty one note in her personality. Nothing about her really popped off the page, even when she was at her most manic during the investigation. The flow to which she got to that place didn’t exist, so instead of feeling like we travelled to a new level of her genuine personality, it come across more like,

    All it took to undo this was a little more finesse in terms of keeping her personality obvious and canon. It felt like a missed opportunity to really make Sayer a character who could rev up a reader’s adrenaline and admiration.

    On the whole, though that really is the only downside to this novel. It could have used a tad more description and a little bit more personality from all the players.

    For me, a police procedural can quickly become a five-star read when the characters stand out with unique, tangible traits that can easily define them in the reader’s imagination. Otherwise, the interactions take on a mundane, cardboard quality. A “going through the motions” feel, like the author has watched and read a million other stories in the genre and was just copying what they think they’re supposed to do.

    The humour feels stale, and the interactions manufactured. I had less of a chance to emotionally connect to the outcome of the novel because I couldn’t get myself care about who was involved all the way.

    Sayer didn’t feel completely knowable. There was a large chunk of her inner monologue that should have been expressed but wasn’t. Even a characters who are emotionally shutdown because of trauma, like Sayer, can be knowable given the right information and reactions. Yes, I get that she can be obsessive about a case and angry at the drop of the hat, but that felt like surface information, pretty typical of these kinds of novels.

    I wanted more depth. I need more depth from what I read. And often that affects my rating.

    With just a little bit more time taken to flesh out the characters and make them their own people, to express thoughts and feelings in a more genuine way, and work on the dialogue so it didn’t feel so robotic/stereotypical, I think this book would have been a near perfect read.

    As it is, the crimes are twisted, the motivation is stunning and the writing is crisp and clean. It felt original in terms of plot, even if it lacked the originality with the characters on the board.

    Decidedly, a read worthy of your time.

    4 Stars.

  • Kendall

    Ellison Cooper's Caged is a well written police driven thriller with a mix of a strong female detective.

    What I liked about Caged? I really liked how Sayer our main female detective had a strong background in Science. Sayer studies serial killers' brains and the general makeup of how it may appear more or less "normal"then what you would see in a non serial killer's brain. This was something I had never seen before in a crime/police procedural novel.

    The story takes off with two police officers

    Ellison Cooper's Caged is a well written police driven thriller with a mix of a strong female detective.

    What I liked about Caged? I really liked how Sayer our main female detective had a strong background in Science. Sayer studies serial killers' brains and the general makeup of how it may appear more or less "normal"then what you would see in a non serial killer's brain. This was something I had never seen before in a crime/police procedural novel.

    The story takes off with two police officers come across a mysterious crime scene, where Detective Sayer and Vik are called to the crime scene. Sayer finds the body of a women who happens to be the daughter of a strong senator. Sayer's case takes off from here and she wonders are there others that have been murdered/missing etc?

    So.. some things that I had issues with... typical police procedural aspects to this one. Nothing unique about Sayer's team... I felt it was just different names but the same characters that you always see in police procedurals! I was expecting more of an original/unique set of characters and dialogue. I was a tad bit disappointed.

    Also, little over half way there was a break in Sayer's case and it was just very unbelievable and little over the top for my taste. I was rolling my eyes big time...

    I would recommend this one to those that have not dived too deep into the police/thriller procedural novels and are ok with dark details to the serial killer's crimes.

    Overall, 3 stars for this one.

    Thank you so much to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press/Minotaur books for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for my honest review.

    Published to GR: 6/13/18

    Publication date: 7/10/18

  • Carrie

    Caged by Ellison Cooper is a police procedural thriller with a bit of a twist on the lead investigator. Sayer Altair is with the FBI and a neuroscientist that has been doing a study of serial killers or more specifically their brains and trying to find anomalies that would distinguish them from normal human brains.

    When two patrol officers get a call to an abandoned residence to check out a call to 911 from young girl they find the home closed up tight. Neighbors say they haven’t seen anyone comi

    Caged by Ellison Cooper is a police procedural thriller with a bit of a twist on the lead investigator. Sayer Altair is with the FBI and a neuroscientist that has been doing a study of serial killers or more specifically their brains and trying to find anomalies that would distinguish them from normal human brains.

    When two patrol officers get a call to an abandoned residence to check out a call to 911 from young girl they find the home closed up tight. Neighbors say they haven’t seen anyone coming or going there and without a definite point of origin for the call they leave. Twelve days later a call comes in for a horrible smell from the same abandoned home. Not only do they find the body of a young woman but both officers get shot.

    Sayer Altair gets the call to lead the investigation into the homicide of the girl when it looks as if she was left alone to starve to death in a cage. The victim is soon identified as the daughter of a senator bringing the case into the spotlight and with evidence leading them the wrong direction Sayer finds herself struggling to make sense of the case when another victim is in danger.

    First I’ll say I’m a bit hit or miss with police procedurals, things need to line up just right to make me love them overall. Caged really started off a strong read and I thought I would fall in love with it but slowly along the way I found little things here and there that brought my rating down a bit with this one.

    First, I liked the idea of Sayer being a neuroscientist but at times I don’t think i was used enough in the book to make it stand out. The characters in here didn’t really stand out much other than the detail about Sayer so I didn’t really fall in love with them. The author seemed to concentrate on making the investigation feel real and sometimes too many little details get a tad boring to me but on the flip side of that some of the things also didn’t feel believable.. say calling up the lab about a test and they run one while on the phone, er those things take time.

    So as you can see I was a bit up and down with this story as I was going along. Then I’d say fairly early on for this type of read I saw right through and picked out the killer too. Now there were plenty of suspicions and suspects tossed in so perhaps it was just plain luck but I’d also would have been more excited to be wrong so in the end the book ended up a bit meh for me.

    I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

    For more review please visit

  • Dennis

    If you like the show

    , look no further because

    is ready to deliver you to the world of crime-fiction, meets police drama. Ellison Cooper's debut novel takes place in Washington DC, focusing on FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair and the police force investigating true crime in the area. After two police officers stumble on a mysterious crime scene, agent Sayer Altair and Vik are staffed to figure out what happened. Sayer is still coping with the death of her fiance Jake, and in the

    If you like the show

    , look no further because

    is ready to deliver you to the world of crime-fiction, meets police drama. Ellison Cooper's debut novel takes place in Washington DC, focusing on FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair and the police force investigating true crime in the area. After two police officers stumble on a mysterious crime scene, agent Sayer Altair and Vik are staffed to figure out what happened. Sayer is still coping with the death of her fiance Jake, and in the midst of providing research on murderers and their genetic differences to why and how they can commit these heinous crimes. Once engulfed into the crime scene, Sayer finds the body of daughter Gwendolyn Van Hurst, the daughter of a media hungry senator. Gwendolyn has been missing for a year now, and her discovery just begins to form new questions about a mysterious case. Are they dealing with a serial killer? Are there other victims? And who is the mastermind in this whole production?

    I'm very surprised that

    is a debut novel, because Ellison Cooper's writing is very crisp and smart—she can tell a story while it crafts in your imagination. While

    is dark and mysteriously, it's plagued by police procedural/detective novel clichés. Without spilling too many of them in this review, Sayer comes from a rough past, no matter how privileged her upbringing. Also, the relationship between Sayer and her team in the DC FBI is just so standard and typical of crime-fiction novels, that you can literally take the dialogue, switch out the names of the people, and BAM it's the next crime-fiction novel at your fingertips. I was expecting more original dialogue and a more interesting arc. A little over halfway through,

    .

    That being said, the crimes committed in

    were dark, disturbing, and yet

    . This is definitely not the type of book that you'd read late at night without checking behind the shower curtain beforehand. I kind of got

    vibes while reading about the victims.

    provides the shock value that readers come to expect with this genre.

    I would recommend readers to pick up

    if they haven't dabbled too far into the crime fiction novel, but have a strong stomach for the grotesque.

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