This was my first encounter with the Irish thriller writer, I very much doubt it’ll be my last, for I enjoyed The Trap very much, not wanting to put it down. Howard is particularly known for her twists, so I was hoping for some in this novel, which didn’t disappoint on that score – but don’t worry, there will be no spoilers here.
The book begins with a young woman walking home in the dead of night accepting a lift from a passing stranger. Talk about starting with a moment of complete jeopardy! But she is delivered to the 24hr service station safe and sound…
…he was a man, not a monster.
And so, not the man she’s been desperately trying to find.
There have been many nights like this. She turns off her phone and walks aimlessly along country roads, dressed for a night in the city, pretending to be a girl who hasn’t managed to make it home, hoping a monster stops to pick her up.
The one who took her sister and three other womena.
This was a great opening, introducing us to a series of disappearances of young women in between Dublin and the Wexford and the Wicklow Mountains to the south. It could be all due to one man, one monster, or several, or they could just have run away. So far, the Gardaí have no evidence to point any which way, although the husband of the first woman to disappear is a suspect. Then, when a young woman whom they hadn’t linked to the disappearances stumbles into the road and is hit by a passing car, they have a first lead – before she is put into a medically induced coma, she mutters ‘pink house’ and that there were other women to the paramedic. Garda detective Denise is on the case.
Cut to the Missing Persons Unit, manned by civilians who collate and record all the information to support the Gardaí and Angela is called to the front desk, there is no Garda officer available. A woman who works in a charity shop has come to hand in a handbag, which contains a wallet and other things belonging to another missing woman from Wexford. That she is able to take it seriously without compromising any evidence is how Angela finds herself seconded to work with Denise, (Angela is trying to pass the tests to become an officer).
We now have everything in place for Denise and Angela to carry out their investigations, to discover whether the women are alive or dead, were abducted or ran away.
There are several really good twists along the way, and as you might expect a shocking denouement, which comes from nowhere but falls into place instantly! All along, virtually every character that Denise encounters, with the fresh eyes of Angela by her side, exudes an air of unease, and Denise’s methods are not always orthodox either, which ups the suspense considerably.
It’s so cleverly done! This novel was a real page-turner and very enjoyable indeed.
Source: Review copy – thank you!
Catherine Ryan Howard, The Trap, Bantam hardback, 311 pages.
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