The Trap by Melanie Raabe // A "Mystery" About PTSD

Monday, 3 October 2016
The Trap, by Melanie Raabe
Publication: July 5, 2016, by Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher
Rating: 

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?

My Thoughts:

Melanie Raabe's The Trap was one of my most anticipated books to read from BEA this year, mainly because the Hachette booth spent so much of their time advertising this newbie and all that it has to give. I remember getting it on the first day and stroking the cover in my hotel room afterwards, wanting to read it more than anything. (Some other books came later and I then decided that I wanted to read them more than this, haha.) The Trap was promising something else to me, I felt. I looked for this to be a psychological thriller that is simple, yet intriguing for the whole time and then shocked us in the end. I had nothing but high expectations for this new release, and I felt rather disappointed by the end because instead of a thriller, we just got a contemporary about grief and PTSD. If I felt in the mood to read that kind of story, I perhaps would have enjoyed this one, but it fell rather short of my expectations. Yes, Goodreads and the publisher label this as a mystery, but looking at the way that we readers got to know the protagonist, Linda Conrads, I felt that this was more of a character-driven story about her development after the death of her sister, Anna. 

PTSD is rarely touched upon in books. This definitely is a fantastic example of how PTSD is actually portrayed (I've read a lot of articles/true stories about people who have dealt/are dealing with it currently), and unlike your cookie-cutter cases where the protagonist could possibly be a veteran/police officer/firefighter, this is the realest case possible, a victim of violence. Linda wasn't the straight-on victim herself, but she did witness the aftermath of the murder of her sister, seeing her corpse on the ground and even seeing her murderer, who later ran away. If you are curious to read about the aftermath of a brutal murder, this book is perfect for you. I didn't look for the aftermath. Okay, I kind of did, but I looked more for the mystery part of the story. Melanie Raabe gave us more of Linda's personal struggles mixed in with the plot. 


PTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder, is a real mental illness that many people deal with constantly. It never goes away, and I adored Raabe's portrayal of this illness with Linda's character. It makes the murder seem more believable, that her trying to discover who her sister's murderer is is killing her on the inside. Linda's character has also never left her house after the murder, spending her spare time with her dog or people who are there to provide her aid (and buy her groceries and those things), and most importantly, she spends her time writing books. At first, they were books of a complete different genre, but Raabe does let us on into her new book, which is basically everything Linda herself has overcome with her sister's death, put into a "fictional" story. 

Yes, plot twists come in here and there throughout the story, all because Linda, at the same time as she writes her novel, is creating a trap for the murderer. I felt that there was no emphasis on the trap itself, but Linda's novel, which I couldn't care less about. I don't like books in a book. Sure, some excerpts are cool, but this was basically a half-Linda's life half-Linda's book story. I didn't want to read the same thing over and over again. Occasionally, things got interesting when something was revealed in Linda's book but was never mentioned in her actual perspective. (I hope that those things were actually real and true, now that I think about it.) 


"As you mentioned before, my life is far from normal. I don't leave the house, don't go to work, don't go to the baker's or the supermarket. I don't travel, I don't meet friends in cafés or clubs. I live a life that is very secluded, which means it is not always easy to avoid boredom. Writing is my way of allowing myself to escape a bit, and I wanted to try out something different" (117).

I must admit, at first, I thought that this was a true story, hah. Melanie Raabe made it sound so believable! I started thinking that this was from Melanie's POV, until the name "Linda" was said, and I realized that this is pure fiction. Yay to Melanie for making this really believable. I just strived to read something more... action-packed, instead of the slowness that this actually provided. In terms of plot and writing, there was practically no development whatsoever. That's why I could only label this novel with three stars, instead of five or four or what the majority of readers are giving to this. I'd also like to congratulate Imogen Taylor, the translator, who did an amazing job of translating Melanie's work from German to English. I love reading translated work!






The Trap by Melanie Raabe was a trap for readers, that's for sure. I came into this expecting an action-packed thriller that will make me scared of the world (especially at night), but instead, we just received a character-driven story that was more about the reality of these kinds of events happening instead of legitimately solving the mystery. That's okay too, but I absolutely don't enjoy being fooled.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

Have you ever gotten fooled by a publisher where you thought you would be reading a mystery/thriller novel? What is your favourite translated work?

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