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The Trap


The Trap

Catherine Ryan Howard is so explicit and exact with her novels about serial crime that you might think she has had personal experience with it. Thankfully she hasn’t. She is just extremely good at bringing dark tales about human monsters to life in a way that not many other writers in this genre are capable of doing.

THE TRAP is Howard's latest novel and is inspired by a series of still-unsolved abductions of several young women that rocked the Irish landscape in the 1990s. Not only does she bring the spirit of those cold cases to the forefront of her story, she adds her own unique spin on how it might have happened and who could have been behind these kidnappings.

"Not only does [Howard] bring the spirit of those cold cases to the forefront of her story, she adds her own unique spin on how it might have happened and who could have been behind these kidnappings."

Our protagonist is a fierce character named Lucy, who has been tirelessly pushing for the police to locate her sister, Nicki, who disappeared a year earlier. Nicki left to meet some friends at a pub in Dublin but never made it home. This does not sit well with Lucy or with Nicki’s boyfriend, Chris, who is working closely with her on this matter. Nicki was the third woman who went missing under similar circumstances over the previous three years. There is an event at the beginning of the book featuring nameless participants that outlines what may have happened to Nicki and the others.

Even though Lucy is not pleased with the lack of progress by An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force, there are a few members of the law enforcement team who are diligently working the case. Denise is an officer who is fully invested in determining what happened, and she is more than ably assisted by Angela, a civilian member of the Missing Persons Unit. Lucy deals with them but also takes matters into her own hands as she sees fit. She feels that the most recent young woman to go missing is now getting all the attention. She wishes that the police would look at this abduction as part of an overall and perhaps much larger series of crimes.

Lucy participates in a live broadcast where she has her own plan in mind for luring out the criminal. Her appearance draws shocked responses from Denise and her team, as well as the families of the missing women, but she doesn’t care. Lucy has done her homework, which is demonstrated by a very clever insertion from Howard that makes reference to her 2020 novel, THE NOTHING MAN. Will this trap that Lucy has set for the abductor work? She has lost the physical support of Chris, who leaves the country for a job at an Irish restaurant in Amsterdam rather than subject himself to the dangerous games he feels she is playing.

THE TRAP is a brilliant work from Catherine Ryan Howard, who provides some excellent insight in the “Notes from the Author” section of the book where she talks about how, at a young age, she remembers being obsessed with VHS tapes of various true crime cases. From the Menendez brothers to Amy Fisher to the Farrah Fawcett film Small Sacrifices, she quickly became an astute student of the evil mind. She includes in her recap this terrific truth: “Sometimes --- tragically, infuriatingly, inexplicably --- fiction is the only place we have to go for answers.”

Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 4, 2023

The Trap
by Catherine Ryan Howard

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1982694718
  • ISBN-13: 9781982694715