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Book Reviews

The Trap
Andrea Steele
Mouse Hole Farm Press
978-0-578-55740-3

 

The Trap opens with a brief prologue set in Tübingen, Germany in 1920, where a child confides a family secret to a friend. Then fast forward to the same setting in 1995, when sociopath Egan challenges his parents' morals and lives. Now move to the same year, different place, in Harford, Connecticut. Alana Eastwood finds herself on a flight to Germany after she loses her job, when her grandfather, Kirk, suddenly collapses. 

An unopened letter she finds in a trunk poses a mystery she can't ignore, but holds few clues for resolving what sounds like an important dilemma. Alana has had indications from an early age that she is clairvoyant, and this talent, combined with her relationship with her grandfather and her connections to and appreciation for Germany, are what power her drive to uncover a close-held truth that's been generations in the keeping. 

Alana has rarely spoken of her dreams, but the events in Germany force her to confront her psychic ability and even broach the most important one of all: one that called into question the validity of her grandfather's identity in her life. And before she can, there is no longer an option to clarify this mystery—or any other. 

Alana’s psychic ability does not overpower the storyline; it believably melds in with the investigation to unravel the mystery and deaths that occur fifty years apart. 

The Trap winds German and American history into a satisfyingly complex novel of intrigue and discovery as Alana probes her own abilities, family heritage, and the secret that threatens her identity and life. 

Between Albert and Helga's dilemma in handling a dangerous son who might be better off dead to Alana's search for answers from the past that threaten her future, The Trap weaves a gripping story powered not by a singular dilemma or mystery, but by the interconnected lives of various characters past and present. 

German history and culture are injected into and reflected into the plot's setting and characters, creating a strong backdrop for the investigation and action that offers many insights into German affairs, from the lingering aftermath of World War II to the evolution of a deadly killer and his parents' struggles as they face him and a dangerous choice. 

As Alana investigates her mysterious letter and discovers it holds a deadly secret, she also finds out that those who might solve her mystery are politically dangerous in their own right: "Alana interjected, “I have an old letter that we wanted to show him. It concerns something that happened during World War II. Professor Altmeyer said Herr Schmidt had the expertise help us.” “Expertise? The guy is a Nazi! He has a whole group of Nazis writing propaganda outta some big freakin’ mansion in the country. They all think it’s a secret, but everyone knows what they are up to.” Stefan spoke with anxiety in his voice. “All history majors have to take Schmidt’s classes because nobody else teaches them. But it’s appalling that we have to even talk to him.” 

From neo-Nazis and terrorism's rise to an Israeli agent who tails Alana and the evolving importance of Alana's own ability, which may be the key to saving lives, Andrea Steele crafts an important survey of various mysteries and traps that deepen and become more complex and impossible for the characters to handle as the story line evolves. 

Steele excels in exploring logical progressions of power, political purpose, and individual dilemma, arriving at intersections where all three facets coalesce in surprising ways. As the trap tightens, the story becomes one of a compelling treasure hunt. 

The result is a powerful saga of Hitler's ability to reach into modern times through a family mystery that becomes a world-changing paradigm, documenting a young woman's awakening ability to change everything through her insights and actions. 

Historical fiction tempered with mystery doesn't get much better than this! 

Midwest Book Review

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