In Tim Krabbé novel’s The Vanishing, Rex cannot move on after his partner, Saskia, disappears. He plays a mental game. What if he were offered two choices? One: he finds out she is alive and well, but he can never know what happened. Two: she’s dead and he can know every detail. He goes for option two – because his obsession with finding out what happened to her has overtaken his grief, and pushed him to a darker place than her absence alone ever could.
In 1993, I turned 11. I was obsessed with Jurassic Park, Point Horror books and, weirdly, made-for-TV movies about infamous American crimes. I knew all about the Menendez brothers, Diane Downs, Betty Broderick, Ted Bundy and the siege at Waco, or at least the sensationalised version of them these low-budget melodramas presented to me. Crime could be entertainment because it was never real; I never saw anything like those horrors in the headlines. But that same year, an American woman named Annie McCarrick went missing from her home in Sandymount, Dublin 4. She would be the first of an unofficial tally of eight women who’d disappear off the Irish earth over the course of the next five years. The youngest victim, Ciara Breen, was 17, the same age I turned in 1998, the year the vanishings apparently stopped. In the time it took me to grow up, the crimes of my age inappropriate movie-rentals escaped from the screen. The real horror, however, was what we couldn’t have known back then: thirty years later, we still wouldn’t know where any of those women went.
Book ideas are often the product of two separate things crashing together to make a third. When it came to writing The Trap, the first was the game Rex plays in The Vanishing. The second was Ireland’s missing women. Not knowing where your loved one is for a single night must be a literal waking nightmare – how must it feel after a week, a month, years? What price would you pay for a moment’s peace? What would peace look like? In The Trap, Lucy sister’s Nicki disappeared a year ago and she can’t take one more moment of not knowing. In exchange for answers, she’s about to pay the ultimate price. To catch her sister’s killer, she’s going to become his victim.
You can now pre-order The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard.