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Book Review of Death Trap

If you like this book, you’ll love Murder of the Prodigal Father. Find it here on Amazon. Other formats are available on this page.

Book Review: Death Trap

A Mystery Novel by John D. MacDonald

A wonderful reading experience for the fan of traditional amateur sleuths with a hard edge.

My Take On the Novel

Death Trap was a great read. The characters are interesting without being unrealistic, and the story situation makes it easy to suspend disbelief. The book has a solid storyline that kept me engaged to the end.

You can find Death Trap here on Amazon.


Hugh MacReedy returns from a long-term engineering job in Spain and learns that the brother of the woman he loves but lost will soon be executed.

A news article brings Hugh’s failure to honor Vicky Landy to the forefront of his mind. Hugh had kept relationships with women distant and controlled until Vicky. But habits die hard and his reckless nonchalance breaks her heart. Since they parted, he can’t stop thinking about her or his role in ruining her dream for an honest devotion.

The newspaper tells of Vicky’s socially inept brother, Alister Landy, whose head is on the chopping block for the rape and murder of a local girl. Hugh knows this will devastate Vicky. She took over managing her brother’s life after their parents died. She gave up her life plans to ensure Alister’s extreme intelligence received the guidance his special type of genius required.

Hugh decides to risk Vicky’s rejection and offer his help. He becomes her advocate in search of an alternative culprit. As a civil engineer, Hugh MacReedy combines his deductive reasoning skills with a hard-knuckled, directive lifestyle to solve this impossible case.

MacReedy is a hard charging, straight shooter who gets the job done. His strength in engineering is his flaw with people. We learn to love him for his candor, and for his willingness to change and make restitution to Vicky Landry.

Hugh battles the equally tough Quillan, a zealous enforcer with a penchant for fisticuffs. He faces the opposition from the townspeople, who believe Alastair Landy guilty based on their expectations of a boy genius who lacks social finesse.

A persistence to find the truth forces Hugh to the end of the line, not knowing whether he will find Alister guilty or uncover a darkness no one is prepared to face.

A Sample

She was not at all like the women who had previously attracted me. I had preferred laughing women whose diction did not make me uncomfortable, big extroverted girls with simple hungers easily gratified…. Because she was so unlike any girl I had ever known, I was not at ease with her…. I spoiled it… I betrayed her with her own deep sensuality, and at the end I closed my ears to her protests, to her fright, to her pleading.
“So how do I help, Vicky? What do I do?
Her thin fingers tightened on my wrist and her eyes were direct and fierce and blue. “He didn’t do it, Hugh. He didn’t do it.”
“I know. I know the way it all sounds. I know the terrible sound of it. He didn’t do it. And there’s nothing I can do to prove he didn’t. Maybe you can. I don’t know. But you see— It’s our only chance, the only chance we’ll every have. I won’t go away, Hugh. I’ll stay her, so I can help you. And—we won’t have much time.”
“How much?”
She whispered and she looked like a ghost. “Ten days, Hugh. They’ve set the date again. Ten days. They’ll do it on Monday, on the twenty-fourth. In the morning.”

MacDonald, John D. Death Trap. Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Who Will Enjoy The Book?

Readers who enjoy an ordinary individual thrown into crime solving because of an internal desire for justice. If you love detective novels with a twist of personal growth, you will appreciate this work.

Number of Stars — My Subjective Opinion

I give Death Trap 5 stars. A viable premise and strong lead character make a worthwhile story, while John D. MacDonald’s skill with realism forge a great reading experience. Including MacReedy’s weakness for fast women, and the impact this attitude has on matters of the heart, adds an element of depth I found stimulating.

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