“For 11 years, the bestselling author Linda Conrads has mystified fans by never setting foot outside her home. Haunted by the unsolved murder of her younger sister–who she discovered in a pool of blood–and the face of the man she saw fleeing the scene, Linda’s hermit existence helps her cope with debilitating anxiety. But the sanctity of her oasis is shattered when she sees her sister’s murderer on television. Hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use the plot of her next novel to lay an irresistible trap for the man. As the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda’s memories–and her very sanity–are called into question. Is this man a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?”
My Thoughts: For a novel in which the main character never leaves her house, there is a surprising amount of action and uncovering of truths in The Trap. Linda Conrads may be held hostage within the walls of her home by her fears, but she has an intelligent mind and a need for answers that allows her to battle through the most formidable of logistic issues. How she goes about doing so is just as interesting, if not more so, as what she uncovers, for she is not just seeking truths about the long-ago crime that decimated her family. She is seeking the truths behind her own actions and lack thereof.
One thing that will strike readers is this idea of Linda as a weak, fearful person. On the one hand, she is just that. She cannot leave her home without a panic attack. She has other fears that are equally formidable behavioral concerns. She has made her home a sanctuary to avoid such problems. Yet, throughout the story, Linda proves that she is anything but weak, even though she stills sees herself as such. Linda’s ability to face her sister’s murderer is not an attribute of a fearful person, no matter how frequently she might refer to herself as one. In this way, The Trap becomes more than just another murder mystery as it morphs into a study on the human psyche and the definitions we place on ourselves and others that limit our perceptions and possibly our abilities.
Granted, at its heart and soul, The Trap is a murder mystery. Linda uses all of her wits and eleven years of extensive reading/research to finally uncover the truth behind her sister’s murder. That she does so in the safety of her own home, her sanctuary for a decade, is an indication of the desperation she feels to get answers. There are all of the heightened emotions associated with such a ploy, building upon the innate suspense created the moment Linda establishes her trap. Because of its hear as a murder mystery, it would be all too easy for Ms. Raabe to resort to the overused plot device of an unreliable narrator. In fact, while she flirts with the use of one, she thankfully never does more than that. Linda may have her moments, as she should given her fairly fragile mental state, but the story is not about her weaknesses but about overcoming her perceptions of those weaknesses. It is one of the many little twists she uses to keep building anticipation and to drive the plot.
The Trap is a perfect summer read. Ms. Raabe does an excellent job of keeping you guessing. At the same time, she succeeds in ratcheting up the tension with each new piece of information. The story is fast-paced without sacrificing development and ends on the perfect note. While it may not be life-changing literature, it is an entertaining whodunit worth the few hours it takes to finish it.