The Trap by Melanie Raabe

imageI know who killed my sister.

I wrote this novel for him.

Twelve years ago, Linda’s sister Anna was murdered. Her killer was never caught, but Linda saw him. Now, all these years on, she’s just seen him again. On TV.

He has since become a well-known reporter, and Linda – a famous novelist and infamous recluse – knows no one will believe her if she accuses him, so she does the only thing she can think of: she writes a thriller about a woman who is murdered, her killer never caught. When the book is published, she agrees to give just one media interview. At home. To the one person who knows more about the case than she does.

He knows what happened that night and she wrote a book about it but, when the doorbell rings, neither of them can be sure how the story will end.

After her sister Anna is brutally murdered and the police are unable to find her killer, Linda retreats from life. Twelve years later, she is as famous for being a recluse as she is for being an author. She hasn’t left the house in all this time. And she hasn’t stopped being haunted by her sisters death and the face of the killer she saw fleeing the scene. Then, one day, there he is staring at her from a TV screen.

Determined he is not going to get away this time, she does what she does best – writes a novel to lure him out.  This is a great idea for a novel, though picking up the book I did worry it was one I might have seen before in Renee Knight’s Disclaimer. Thankfully beyond the basic idea of a crime being exposed in a work of fiction, the stories are very different and The Trap a very good book and an excellent debut.

Linda’s reclusiveness gives the story a real claustrophobic feel. Setting the majority of the book in one house could have made it boring or repetitive. Instead, Raabe makes you wonder whether Linda is right, whether she has finally seen the killer after all these years, or whether she is mentally ill and completely detached from reality. It feels like you are watching a woman completely lose the plot…or are you?  To add to the questions, interspersed throughout, are chapters from the book Linda is writing which add to and contradict the story she is telling in real time.

As a character Linda is interesting if not necessarily that likeable. I struggled at times with her being an intelligent woman with the resources to help herself but who didn’t. Then again, it also made it easier for me to wonder if she maybe was the guilty party, not the mystery man on the television. And I did wonder that a lot. Her complexity was probably a good thing too because for the most part she was the only character in the book, and the only one whose viewpoint you saw. It’s hard to do this and keep a reader interested I think.

My do I, don’t I like Linda feelings didn’t stop me liking the book. The fact that it was well written, a clever idea, and had a good pace made up for it. My feelings probably did stop me loving it though as did a few times when I thought the translation (the book was originally published in German) let it down; sentences felt jarring and didn’t flow with the rest of the book.  Still, these were few and far between and meant I still liked this book a lot…an impressive debut and a recommended read.

Emma

note: I received this book from mumsnet in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

9 comments
  1. Oh this sounds good! I don’t mind not liking a character if I enjoy the plot of the book enough and this sounds intriguing. Just from the blurb I kind of wondered if it would be too clever or too mired in what’s going on in Linda’s head to be compelling but this sounds like a great read.

    1. I know what you mean about been to clever but I think it’s the going down the rabbit hole of if Linda is crazy I liked. It was hard to tell truth from lies.,

  2. The dramatic beginning really drew me in and made me want to put it on my “to read” list. It sounds really intriguing! Thanks for the great review.

    1. It does draw you in. Then takes you down a complete blind alley…love it when books do that well, which this did.

  3. This sounds really good, it’s going on my list. Great review! 🙂

    1. Thank you. Definitely worth a read!

  4. I like the sound of this book. Don’t think it would bother me about Linda not being particularly likeable

    1. It is well worth a read. I think there are reasons Linda is how she is…there wouldn’t be as many twists otherwise!

  5. […] The Trap by Melanie Raabe was a clever idea that sounded right up my street and I was lucky to be sent a review copy.  An agoraphobic author, who hasn’t left the house since her sister was murdered, sees the killer on TV.  Thinking no one will believe her (because they didn’t at the time), she sets out to trap him the only way she knows how – by writing about the murder in the guise of a novel.  Melanie Raabe provides plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader turning pages.  The only downside to this novel was the translation, which I felt let it down in places. […]

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