By Louise Voss
Published by Amazon Publishing/Thomas and Mercer (24 February 2015)
Jo Atkins' sixteenth year was disastrous: she lost her dad, was assaulted by a stranger, and then had her heart broken. For the last twenty-five years, she's believed that nothing could ever be as bad again.
She was wrong.
Now, still smarting from her recent divorce, pretty, self-effacing Jo finally gathers the courage to enter the dating scene. She meets Claudio, whom she vaguely remembers from her youth, but after a few dates decides he's creepy and politely tells him 'thanks but no thanks'.
But Claudio has no intention of letting her go.
Instead of never seeing him again, Jo wakes up sick and terrified, handcuffed to her own bed. She is given a week to prove her love for Claudio - or he will kill her.
Claudio, it turns out, is a man with nothing left to lose.
The Venus Trap tackles the emotional impact of divorce, the perils of modern dating and the age-old powers of lust and obsession.
Being locked in your own home by a maniac is a terrifying prospect, as your own safe house becomes your prison. In this book, it's compounded by the fact that Jo knows her jailer from her past and, most worryingly, she has let him back into her life after all these years.
The book has a promising start from the outset, setting the scene, when Jo wakes up handcuffed to her bedpost, with her bedroom in complete lockdown, shut off from the rest of the world. Claudio is a frightening character; you could pass him in the street without even a second glance, with no idea about the monster lurking underneath his seemingly normal exterior.
Jo has seven days to prove her love for Claudio - or as he phrases it: 'You have seven days to tell me you love me, in a way that I believe you really mean it. No bullshitting… If you don't convince me that you love me within seven days, I will kill you.'
It's a frightening but well-written story. Claudio feeds Jo and looks after her (in his own demented way). But it doesn't take Jo long to discover his nasty side and for the situation to descend into violence.
There are some great lines, such as: 'I will try to get inside his head. I just pray he won't take it as encouragement and try to get inside me.'
Louise Voss made me realise - and think carefully - about how much we all carry around with us on our phones, tablets, laptops etc. Our contacts, diaries and social media are 'hidden' with just a few buttons and a passcode. With careful planning and timely observation, Claudio found it easy to learn Jo's secrets and gain access to her life. He forces Jo to read her diary, so that she can look back at particular incidents in her past. This triggers a whole host of emotions - love, fear, excitement and panic - and reveals some disturbing revelations (one of which I did guess!).
This is my first Louise Voss book, although I have read some of her collaborations with Mark Edwards. I look forward to reading more of these soon.
I received this as an Advance Reader Copy through NetGalley and from the author herself, in exchange for an honest review.