The Trap by Melanie Raabe
Trans. by Imogen Taylor. Text, 2016. ISBN 9781925240870
(Age: Secondary+) Melanie Raabe is a young German writer of screenplays, scripts and blogs. This, her first novel, is a thriller for which the film rights have already been secured. The main character, Linda, is a successful author who has lived in seclusion since the murder of her sister Anna. Linda found her sister's body and details of the scene are unforgettable, the sight of her sister's bleeding body, the sound of the Beatle's song 'Love me do' repeating incessantly on the CD player and most significantly, the glimpse she has of the killer fleeing from the room. The police at the time were sceptical at best and disbelieving at worse about her evidence. Unable to face the world she writes and remembers and is alienated from even her parents, until she sees again the face of the murderer on television. He is a well-respected journalist and Linda recoils from approaching the police. She feels they would be unlikely to believe her, and an interrogation would alert him to suspicion. She decides to find proof herself.
She writes a book, a thriller, in which the victim and the murder parallel her sister's murder. She undergoes desensitisation training to help her face her fears. She consults an expert on interrogation techniques. She wires her house with cameras and recording systems. She invites the news outlet that employs her suspect, Lenzen, to send him to interview her. She chooses a day when her staff are not at work and has a caterer provide food. The interview begins; Lenzen is an attractive and clever man, who she senses is aware of her suspicions. She gains the upper hand, she thinks, after a number of mind games and tries to force a confession by pointing a gun at him. However, she thinks she can hear the Beatles song 'Love me do' repeating and becomes confused. Is she going mad? Lenzen protests his innocence and takes the gun. He persuades her that she was the killer herself, and that was what the police had always suspected. Linda remembers childhood antagonisms and interprets her parents' cool behaviour as being based on suspicion. She has always been a story teller; has she invented her sighting of the murderer to provide herself with a cover? Lenzen seems to be off the hook until Linda has a chance meeting which causes her to again reassess, and to take further risky action which leads to a resolution and a life-affirming renewal.
The novel is tightly and simply written with believable characters, though slightly drawn, and a suspenseful and unpredictable plot. Though a thriller the story concerns the psychological reactions to events rather than the violence of events and so has more depth than many crime novels. It is suitable for secondary readers.