It’s no surprise to hear that Melanie Raabe won the Stuttgarter Krimipreis (Stuttgart Crime Prize) for best crime debut of the year for her novel, The Trap.
Twelve years ago Linda Conrad’s sister Anna was brutally murdered. Linda swears she saw the killer’s face as he escaped but he was never identified or caught. Despite being a successful author, her sister’s death affected her so badly that she became a recluse, refusing to step foot outside her home or give interviews. She’s never forgotten the killer’s face though, and one night she recognises him – he is by now a well-known journalist – when he appears on television.
She can’t let go of her belief he killed Anna, so she decides to set a trap for him the only way she knows how, writing a thriller called Blood Sisters about the unsolved murder of a young woman. The book is a departure from her usual style and her publisher thinks she risks alienating her regular readers, but Linda is determined to go ahead.
When the book is completed, she grants just one interview, which comes with strict conditions. It will take place in her home, and the man whose face she has etched on her memory must be be the interviewer.
The Trap is a unique crime novel that had me almost skim-reading it because I was so impatient to find out what happened next. It is incredibly fast-paced and very well written. While I was sceptical of the plot at first, Raabe managed to make the story believable and right up to the last few pages I was still not sure who had murdered Anna. Was it the journalist? Or had Linda murdered her own sister and blocked out that fact, inventing the fantasy of a mysterious killer to cover her tracks?
Two stories run parallel in The Trap – each features two sisters, a police officer, and a murderer – varying slightly in the details. I thought this would make it difficult to follow, but very early in the book I realised it worked perfectly, giving the reader time to digest the nuances of each separate story before the next chapter (or instalment).
Raabe apparently wrote her novel in secret while working as a journalist in Cologne. If The Trap is an example of how well she writes, I sincerely hope she continues. Film rights to the novel have been acquired by TriStar Pictures (a division of Sony Pictures): further proof of how good this book really is.
Reviewed by Faye Lougher
by Melanie Raabe
Published by Text