The Venus Trap, by Louise Voss

Four stars (of five)

Voss returns with another psychological thriller, tackling another angle of the horrors of love. When Jo Atkins wakes up in her own bed, everything seems fine, at least until she moves. She is shackled to her bed and her head swims in a lake of confusion. It is only then that she is able to begin the slow process of realisation; she’s being held captive by her date, Claudio. Jo is given an ultimatum, ‘fall in love with me in seven days, or I will kill you’, which does not seem like an exaggeration when Claudio says it. Voss leads the reader through the following days, as Jo recounts her past: from her first interactions with Claudio, her marriage to Richard and their daughter, the flirtation and relationship that promulgated her divorce, and a horrific memory Jo’s documented in her diary in 1986. As Jo’s resolve appears to diminish in the hopes of being freed, Claudio ramps up his antics to win the heart of the woman he’s loved for upwards of twenty-five years. Voss continues to make a name for herself and her ever-evolving thrillers. A must-read for fans and a great launching point to win over new readers alike.

Voss has mastered the art of the psychological thriller, and this novel is no exception. It illustrates just how sadistic some people tend to be when it comes to infatuation. Voss examines love and personal growth through the eyes of a woman who was scarred as a teenager, but who saw fit to work through that and forge a life for herself. Crossing paths with Claudio was more a happenstance occurrence, though the reader discovers the root of this romantic curiosity. Voss also returns to a previous theme from Forward Slash, in which she discusses the pros and cons of internet dating, while also addressing the post-divorce return to the dating world. Well written and spiced with just enough humour to take the raw edge off, Voss masterfully captures her audience and will not let them leave until all is resolved… or ends horrifically.

Kudos, Madam Voss for another stellar piece of work. I am a fan of the highest order, hands down.