The Trap (orig. Die Falle) by Melanie Raabe
2 out of 5 stars
Initially, I wanted to give this a one-star rating but the fact that I actually wanted to know how it ends merits another star in my opinion. It’s the story of Linda, who found her sister murdered in her own apartment. Linda is convinced that she saw the murderer escape but he was never found. Years later she has become a famous author living a life in total isolation. Content with this agoraphobic lifestyle her only human contacts are her publisher and her assistant. One terrible day she sees the man, who allegedly escaped the scene of the crime twelve years before, on TV. He’s become a well-known journalist. So in order to get him to confess Linda writes a crime thriller about her sister’s murder and invites the man she deems to be the murderer into her house.
So far so good.
I found this premise pretty intriguing and was hoping for something of a cat-and-mouse game between these two characters – especially since Linda is portrayed as a very intelligent and clever woman. I was also hoping for something that would resemble a play since the setting (a dining room) is fairly enclosed and there really are only the two main characters who truly matter. I was hoping for an intelligent verbal exchange of blows along the lines of Koch’s The Dinner.
Alas, none of this happened.
From the beginning, Linda as a character is just not likeable. She’s arrogant and self-involved. (I listened to the audiobook and absolutely hated the voice of the actress reading it so it might have added to my opinion of the protagonist.) So you kind of hope for her to crack and to have made the wrong assumptions. I simply did not want her plan to work.
The problem is that not one of the characters are very plausible. I’m trying to keep this spoiler-free so I won’t go into this too much. But the way these people forget important things and how they react to mentally stressful situations is not very realistic.
Also, the overall conclusion was the least believable of all possible outcomes. It felt like the last showdown was simply tacked on to the rest of the plot to give the whole book some kind of grand finale.
One last thing that I absolutely hated was how the murder victim was portrayed like she had deserved to be brutally stabbed to death. In every scenario the author gives us, the victim provokes her murderer into a blind rage. It’s like the author wants us to think that the crime was in some way satisfied because this woman simply was a husband-stealing, mean girl; a bad person.
In conclusion, this book was not bad in itself. The plot was actually constructed fairly well, if not very plausible. Raabe had me convinced that I knew what was going on until the twist at the very end. She’s also not a bad writer. I think this book could have done with a more feasible motive for the murder and with a better understanding of what trauma does to a person (a deeply-rooted fear of the outside world cannot be overcome in mere hours).