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.
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?