Tuesday, July 12, 2016

THE TRAP :: Melanie Raabe

"A trap is a device to trap or kill. A good trap should be two things: foolproof and simple."

Best-selling author Linda Conrads hasn't stepped outside her house in eleven years. Twelve years ago she discovered her sister stabbed to death, and her eyes met those of the murderer as he fled. When the investigation ultimately went cold, Linda retreated from the world.

More than a decade later, Linda sees the killer again. Determined to bring him to justice yet unable to leave home, she decides to lure him into an elaborate trap she designs by writing a book mirroring her sister's murder and the investigation that followed. Using herself as bait is risky, since Linda is certain the killer knows she saw him leave the scene. 

Alternating between Linda's first-person narrative and the chapters of her book, The Trap is a fun, engaging read that flows well despite getting a bit bogged down by repetition in Linda's head as she obsesses over the murder and her plans to solve it. At times the story felt like a twisted game of cat-and-mouse, at others a game taking place only in the head of a really unstable cat.

I'm a sucker for the book-within-a-book format, and this is one done well. As Linda's preparation for her showdown with the killer progresses, so does the prior investigation (as depicted in Linda's book). As Linda's mental state is called into question, so is everything about what she has written. As Linda admits, "I've been living in a hall of mirrors that have distorted everything in my life." Is what Linda has written the truth about her sister's murder, or just what she wants to remember?

Part of what made The Trap enjoyable was wondering who to believe and when. As a lifelong storyteller, Linda begins to wonder, along with the reader, if she hasn't simply come to believe a story she's been telling herself for years. Despite one loose thread that nagged at me, Raabe brought both stories (her sister's murder and her present day efforts to bring the killer to justice) to a satisfying conclusion.

STREET SENSE:  The Trap is an entertaining summer read with a unique premise that doesn't feel too heavy despite the subject matter. If you're a sucker for the book-within-a-book format, this is one to put on your wish list.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:   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.

COVER NERD SAYS:  I fell in love with this cover immediately. I'm a sucker for dark photographic elements, and this image appeals to be even standing alone. I appreciate the plain font and the ratio between the title and the author type size. You can still read Raabe's name, but the differential leaves room for the two plot blurbs. I'm not usually a fan of such tools, but I think in this instance it works extremely well. If you can resist those plot hints, you're a stronger reader than I.

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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