The Trap: unsettling and unexpected

The Trap Book Review: unsettling and unexpected read

What is this about: Linda Conrads is a novelist convinced she’s found her sister’s killer. How does she bring him to justice when she’s afraid of leaving her house?

What else is this about?: A character piece, delving into the mind of someone who, I am assuming, is agoraphobic (or some form thereof, because her illness is never really named) in the book. Linda has been consumed by her sister’s murder and it shows.

Stars: 3.5/5

Blurb: The famous novelist Linda Conrads, 38, is a mystery to her fans and the media. She hasn’t set foot over the threshold of her villa on Lake Starnberg for more than eleven years, and yet she’s extremely successful. Her life, though comfortable, is highly artificial and her grip on reality is fragile. Only very few know that she is tormented by a dark memory.

When she was young, Linda found her sister Anna in a pool of her own blood and saw the murderer fleeing. His face haunts her dreams. So it is a tremendous shock for her one day when that exact face appears on her television screen — it belongs to the high-profile journalist Victor Lenzen. She decides to set a trap to catch Victor by writing a novel based on the death of her sister and promote the book through one interview —with Victor. But what actually happened that night many years ago? 

The Trap is… unsettling. Even now, having finished the book a couple of hours ago, thinking about it leaves me feeling not satisfied, but something else entirely I can’t quite name. Like something is just slightly different about it – I suspect, because of my own expectations of it.

When I first heard about The Trap and recommended it some months ago, I thought it would be a cat and mouse game, a thriller contained within a house, for how else would that be achieved with a character unable to leave said house? And I was right to an extent, but also very much not right.

Linda Conrad is an accomplished writer who hasn’t left her house in 11 years. Written in the first person, we’re only ever privy to Linda and her perceptions of her very small world and the people who inhabit it, including the man she believes killed her sister, Anna, years before. Linda’s world is claustrophobic, her voice in the book somewhat disjointed as she discusses how she makes her world tolerable, her relationship with her sister and her parents.

This is a translation of a German story, so I can only imagine how tense and kind of fabulous it would be to read in the original language, not that the translation isn’t fabulous itself. The writing is atmospheric and accomplished because there is only Linda, her world and her perceptions for the author to delve into, and Raabe manages to take these few elements, turn them around and make me wonder if Linda is even telling the truth half way through the book.

As mentioned above in the blurb, Linda has written a book about her sister’s murder to entice the journalist she believes killed her sister into an interview and a confession. Anna’s life and death looms large through this book and it would be hard to connect with Linda and the event had Raabe not included chapters of Linda’s book through The Trap, explaining what happened all those years ago even as Linda tries to find her sister’s killer in the present.

All in all an unsettling read, but in the best way. Would you give it a go?

13 Comments

  • I am curious and love the premise. I am very much a homebody and if let unattended would never venture beyond my property line.

    • Verushka says:

      Haa, I have days when I am exactly like that on the weekend and then have to go into the office and lie about what I did on the weekend! This is definitely an unusual read, and I think because of the translation, it was a bit slow in the beginning for me, but then it just hit its stride.

  • Those types of books that make you feel unsettled are awesome. I totally get what you’re saying because I’ve felt that way before, and I feel like it’s a sign of good writing. And that does sound like a unique premise. I imagine it must be hard to write a full book with a plot and everything that takes place only inside a house. I did watch a movie once though (can’t remember the name) in which the main character was also too afraid to leave her apartment, so the whole thing took place there, though it wasn’t a crime thriller thing, more of a romance. Anyway, glad you enjoyed this 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      I don’t think I can actually pinpoint what it is exactly that made me unsettled, it’s just this thread running to it. When I first read about this book, I wondered how the author would write a book in a house, but the main character’s internal thoughts are so compelling, it helps a heap. (I would like to see that movie if you remember it?)

  • Silvia says:

    Yes, yes I would! The “I know who killed my sister, I wrote this book for him” line piqued my attention, then your review intrigued me and now I’m truly curious . . . Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Silvia. From what I thought when I first heard about it to what it really turned out to be was sooo different and good in an entirely different way.

  • Priscilla says:

    I love the sound of this book! I’m a bit of a homebody, so I’m fascinated about the topic surrounding agoraphobia. Coupled that with suspense, I’m sold.

    • Verushka says:

      From what I thought it was, to what it was in reality, it was very different, but STILL so good. (also: homebodies yeah!)

  • Lola says:

    Sounds like it’s different than what you expected. I don’t think this would be a book for me, I don’t read a lot of thrillers and that unsettling feeling doesn’t sound good to me. The premise does sound interesting though.

    • Verushka says:

      It was! But still good in the end, I think. It’s a very subtle thriller until it amps up the thriller part 🙂

  • Karen Blue says:

    I am really curious about this book after reading your review. It sounds like a good psychological thriller maybe? I like the idea of writing a book to a loved one’s killer. Sound therapeutic. Great review!

    • Verushka says:

      It is a psychological thriller, it’s also very character-driven, which I liked. And you’re right, it’s extremely therapeutic for her getting it all out. Linda is no without her issues, which heightens her character and thought processes in the novel.

  • AngelErin says:

    Ooo this sounds really great. I have to admit I like unsettling reads. I’m definitely down to try a new psychological thriller and this one sounds unique. I think I have it on my wishlist. It’s on my TBR for sure. 😀

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