I received this book for free from Grand Central Publishing, NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Trap by Melanie Raabe
Published by Grand Central Publishing on July 5th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Thrillers, Suspense
Source: Grand Central Publishing, NetGalley
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A solid thriller with a REALLY unreliable narrator. The central character’s internal conflict and descent into madness is the main point of interest.
“A book must be an axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka
Bestselling author Linda Conrads hasn’t left her home for over a decade, since around the time she found her younger sister Anna stabbed to death. She insists she saw the murderer’s face at the scene of the crime, but there was no convincing physical evidence and Anna’s case was never solved. While watching television one evening, she sees the murderer’s face delivering the news. Once she recovers from the shock, she concocts a plan to trap the journalist. She will lure him to her home by writing a book detailing the murder and invite him to her home for an exclusive and rare interview, an opportunity no journalist would pass up. But is this man really Anna’s murderer or is he an innocent man who has got caught up in one of Linda’s “stories”? Has Linda created her own reality because she can’t deal with what actually happened?
Am I mad?
No, I’m not mad.
How can you tell you’re not mad?
You just can.
How can you tell if you are mad? You just can.
But if you really are mad—how can you know? How can you know anything with absolute certainty
I listen to the voices arguing in my head, and I no longer know which of them is the rational one.
The story is told in first-person present, from Linda’s perspective. She is such an unreliable narrator that I started losing my own grasp of reality! Linda is an eccentric recluse, who seems both deluded and paranoid. She has completely withdrawn from society since her sister’s untimely death. Writing and not leaving her house are her primary coping mechanisms: “Making up stories where nobody had to die. Living in a world in which there was no danger.” Chapters of Linda’s novel Blood Sisters are interspersed between the present-day chapters. It gives us context and insight into her mind that Linda is unable to give us outside of her writing. There is a clear differentiation between Linda’s speaking/thinking voice and writing voice. The excerpts were a nice break from being inside her head, which because of the nature of her character could be exhausting and repetitive.
People think it’s hard not to leave your house for over a decade. They think it’s easy to go out. And they’re right; it is easy to go out. But it’s also easy not to go out. A few days soon become a few weeks; a few weeks become months and years. That sounds like an immensely long time. But it’s only ever one more day strung on to those that have gone before.
It took me some time to get into the story, because it reminded me so much of Disclaimer. Disclaimer’s Stephen and The Trap’s Linda have so much in common personality-wise! However, I was hooked once she started preparing for the interview. The middle third was my favorite part of the book, because the interview is so tense. The strangeness of the situation and Linda’s unhinged state of mind made my heart pound! She perceives things in such strange way. It reveals how tenuous her grasp on reality is…or does it? 😉 I loved the journalist’s pointed literary criticism and Linda’s scrambling to come up with a defense, especially since the reader (and possibly the journalist) know the book is essentially non-fiction.
A trap for a murderer. With her as bait. Perfect, provided you weren’t overly attached to life. Sophie realized that she was thinking in the terms of a TV crime drama, with the murderer, the victim, the pesky eyewitness, the nice police officer. Somehow it was easier that way: to view the affair not as a genuine tragedy, not as a real part of her life, but as just another case.
The one thing that drove me crazy was those cliffhanger chapters. I’m always iffy on those anyway, but the placement of a whole chapter in between the cliffhanger and the cliffhanger resolution made them extra irritating. Paraphrased example:
End of Chapter 18: I did this.
*Chapter of Linda’s Novel*
Beginning of Chapter 19: Wait, no I didn’t. I actually did this!
Life is often so much less spectacular than fiction.
The Trap is about the stories people create to protect themselves and to survive in the aftermath of tragedy. Linda is not the only character in this book guilty of that! If you enjoy unreliable narrators, or if you enjoyed the atmosphere of Disclaimer or A Small Indiscretion, you’ll be interested in this book. The Trap is a fun way to spend the evening!
“Then why are we prolonging the agony and the yearning?” Jonas gave a slight smile. His dimple appeared. “Because we need the agony and the yearning. Because that’s what makes us feel alive,” he said.
(P.S. Strange coincidence: This is the second book I’ve read this month where a woman travels the world via the rooms in her house. The Summer That Melted Everything is the other one. Completely different genre, but highly recommended!