Saturday, January 23, 2016

"The Moonlit Trap" by Ruth Willock

Published:  1973
Setting:  Modern Day

Just on five o'clock, and now the clouds had masked the sun completely; it was darker than twilight.

Perhaps office such as these, I thought, adhered to rigid hours; opened early as European firms were rumored to and closed precisely at this time.  And yet I had seen no person, no car leaving the house at all.

If the place had been neglected,  I should have been less surprised at the quiet.  The villa bore rather the same turn-of-the-century air of affluence that it must originally have presented to the community...

I had not moved more than a few yards from the last step when I heard the low br-r-r of a motor on the Malinastrasse, the lane at the drives' end.  And I started forward, thinking that an employee or employer might be returning from some business negotiation perhaps.  I was in the drive when I heard the motor accelerate disproportionately for the confined length of drive and court.

In a flash I thought:  he'd better have good brakes!

But it was too late.  It was almost too late for me.  The dark hood of the car came straight at me, seemed almost to rise like a jungle animal pouncing on its prey, the gleam of the metal bumper a stretched mouth, the grill of the radiator its teeth.

I leaped sideways and fell, the entire right side of my body striking the drive's soft shoulder with a thud.  The fall had not been voluntary; the cars fender had caught my left hip as I flung away from it.  But I did not lie even for an instant on the resilient blend of pine needles and black earth that had cushioned the fall for me.  I had heard the sharp squeal of brakes as the driver brought the car to a very short stop in the court, not many yards behind me.


Back Cover Synopsis:

What more pleasant prospect could there be for two young American girls like Constance and Peg than to fly to Europe for a summer trip?  Constance would study in London for a few weeks, then join Peg, who is interested in Medieval carved figurines, in Zurich for a mountain holiday in search of treasure.  Both have romance in mind as well as foreign travel.

But from the beginning Constance worries about her impulsive, temperamental friend.  There is little news from her, and what there is is alarming.  She seems to have met a fascinating man and is going off with him on a mysterious mission.

Then curious things begin to happen to Constance herself:  Her London flat is ransacked, and she is assaulted in the lobby.  And two interesting but enigmatic men pursue her with their attentions.

She decides to go to Switzerland to find Peg, but neither in Zurich nor later in Liechtenstein, where the trail leads her, can she catch up with her best friend.  At length the search leads her to the remote Verlorenen Tal, where an action climax plunges Constance into tragedy.


I honestly wanted to like this book.  I fell in love with the setting.  There was so much mystery, the surroundings of foreign cities I've never seen before.  Even the romance was compelling.  I was also drawn into the mysterious magesty of the figurines and the treasure hunt.  However, this book was just...jumpy.  I got lost in between the series of events and had trouble really stringing the whole mystery together.  In a lot of places, things moved much too slowly.  Things that didn't need that much description were just totally over-written.  The author fleshed out aspects of the novel that seemed to be going in one direction (that perhaps the initial male was going to stalk one of the main characters) which ended up not being so.  I was left utterly confused during the last half of the book.  The only saving grace was the action-packed climax at the very end.  Yes it's a vintage gothic.  It's more of an adventure mystery than anything.  I finished it because, really, I just kept trying to figure out what the hell was going on.  I would recommend it if you're bored and are looking for a drawn out, sort of mysterious, foreign adventure.  Otherwise, go to your next selection on the TBR pile.


Best Gothic Elements:  weird ancient figurines, traveling to a foreign country alone, someone's living quarters being ransacked, someone's luggage being ransacked and/or switched, impostors, drug trafficking, murder, abandoned villages and mansions in mountain towns in the middle of nowhere, being isolated and held against one's will.



My Rating:
3 Stars

4 comments:

  1. Strange, I just finished this same book a few days before you did. I enjoyed the first half more than the second half but overall I still loved the book. Sure, the ending is a little strange but isn't that about par for these books? I don't feel that I wasted my time reading the book and isn't that important? I had checked this book out from openlibrary.org. Thank heavens for openlibrary.org for having these books available.

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    1. i read it once, way back in college. it bothered me that i couldn't remember what happened so i thought i'd read it again. what drove me crazy, i think, is how characters would just come into the storyline...like the foreign friend that the main character seemed leery of...and for the most part i could not make any association with that person to the storyline, then all of a sudden toward the end you got to find out. it was an okay book for me, the setting and wondering where her friend went is what kept me reading.

      i absolutely love open library! i tell everyone i know. :) so many amazing vintage (and some newer) reads on there!

      thanks for stopping by. i'm always up for discussing any of these books with you. not many people seem to enjoy them anymore.

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    2. How do you read your books you check out from openlibrary.org? Do you read online where you are looking at actual images taken of the book or do you download a file? I found that the downloaded file has mistakes and prefer the images of the book. I'm a real book nut and love books, the physical objects so I still get the satisfaction of looking at book front and back covers along with every single page in the book. I read whatever notes someone has left. All interesting to me. Library book stamps so you can see where the actual book has been. Sometimes even price tags on the covers or inside jackets. I really don't know what I'd do if openlibrary.org closed down. I've only run into one "scheduled maintenance‎" where they closed down access for about 2 hours and that was last Friday in the early afternoon. I'm retired so I get to read all day long if I'm not doing anything else. The one big reason I retired was so that I could read all day long. The perfect life!

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    3. I actually usually use the ipod or my tablet. I downloaded this app called Aldiko which is an ereader for epubs and pdf documents. I like epubs, they are quicker to read but like you said, some have lots of mistakes. The pdf's have the actual photos of the books, I think.

      I also sometimes use acrobat reader on the laptop, especially if I need a screenshot of a cover.

      I love open library. I have tons of book lists on there lol. My gothic books has the most, i think 1200 or so. I still get excited when I find a new one to add! :)

      I'm not retired, completed grad school two years ago and homeschool my autistic daughter at the moment. I'm going to be really sad if/when I do begin a career and my reading time will be cut to a fraction of what it is :(

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