Friday, September 9, 2016

Review: The Trap by Melanie Raabe

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: July 5th, 2016
Pages: 352


In this twisted debut thriller, a reclusive author sets the perfect trap for her sister's murderer--but is he really the killer?

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?

What Did I Think About the Story?

I think this might be one of the coolest concepts for a thriller I've read in a while! An author who writes a novel that details her sister's murder in order to draw in the killer, all while she can't leave her home due to her anxiety, is brilliant. The fact that the sanity of the person telling the story is called into question from the very beginning makes it even more appealing. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love unreliable narrators and trying to piece together the truth from the information they are giving to the reader. Melanie Raabe does a wonderful job of stringing the reader along as Linda's trap is laid and the twists and turns of the aftermath fall into place.

From the very beginning it was easy to see that Linda spends the vast majority of her time in her own head, and that her head is full of a fantastical imagination and boundless fear. It also doesn't take long to figure out that Linda herself isn't even sure which of her memories and thoughts are real and which she's made up to fit what she wants to be true. I found Linda to be quite the complex character and, while I didn't particularly like her as a person, I loved her as a character I had to try and decipher. Most of the other characters fell a little flat to me (and none of them were particularly likeable characters) but Linda stood out as a unique and enjoyable character to read about.

I also really enjoyed the format of the story. Mixed in with Linda's current situation of trying to trick the person she emphatically believes killed  her sister into confessing and in such a way that she has evidence to present to everyone else (since she is, remember, not the most reliable of people), we get to read excerpts from the novel Linda wrote regarding her sister's murder. I particularly enjoyed these sections as they gave a better understanding of what happened that night - at least what Linda says happened - and that helped fill in some gaps in her current story. I've not read another novel that used this sort of technique, but I really wish more would as I found it really exciting!

I did have some issues with the story that kept The Trap from being a complete hit for me. The fact that none of the characters are particularly likeable didn't influence my enjoyability of the novel too much, but it did make me not care overmuch regarding the eventual outcome for them. The pace of the novel slows down quite a bit around the middle as Linda confronts the would-be killer as well, and I found myself just wanting that long evening of confrontation to get to an end and move on to the next step in the story. There's also a mild love story thrown in for some reason, and I really didn't think this added anything to the story overall.

All things considered I did enjoy The Trap and found that it scratched that psychological suspense itch I've had as of late.  It's definitely worth a read for the unique situations and formatting I discussed above and I think those that really enjoy mysteries and thrillers will find it worth a read. This being Melanie Raabe's debut, I'm excited to see what stories she comes up with next!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

Like the story it's kind of stark and dark and unadorned, which I appreciate since I like a cover that matches the story in some way.  However this isn't the sort of cover that I'd see walking by and have to stop to pick up to learn more. It's kind of plain and boring for my tastes.

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Thank you to Tiffany Sanchez at Hachette Book Group for providing me with a free copy of The Trap in exchange for an honest review. You can find more reviews as well as links to where you can purchase your own copy of the book on Goodreads HERE.

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