Tag Archives: Robert K. Tanenbaum

Book Review: Trap by Robert K. Tanenbaum (3/5)

12 Jan

This is a book I never intended to read and probably would have never picked up. My brother’s girlfriend got us all books for Christmas and this was what she picked for me. I’d never heard of the author before and it was outside my usual genre. However, when you finish your book sooner than expected, you grab the next thing you can get your hands on and for me, it was this book.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Trap (Butch Karp #27) by Robert K. Tanenbaum

Summary from Goodreads:

When a tremendous blast rocks an old school building in East Harlem during a meeting of the New York Charter Schools, killing six and wounding a dozen others, it’s initially blamed on a natural gas explosion. However, as Butch Karp digs a little deeper, he discovers the explosion was the work of a mysterious serial arsonist in the employ of the teacher’s union president, who is angry at the unqualified successes of the charter school movement in New York City and worried for the corrupt public school system. Also involved in the planning and cover-up is a major law enforcement player and a political hack who panders to the union for financial support and gets caught up in the homicidal scheme.

At least that’s the conclusion Butch Karp is operating under when he indicts the pair for murder. But is it a trap? Is there another motive behind the attack that could derail the case? How will Karp discover it and can he do so in time to bring justice to the murdered and maimed? It all ends in the kind of dramatic courtroom showdown that New York Times bestselling author Robert K. Tanenbaum is best at, and that Booklist called “positively balletic.”

That’s not the summary I would have written for this book, but whatever. The book starts out in the middle, flashes forward to the beginning, and then continues chronologically. I wasn’t a huge fan of this only because I knew what was coming along the way. There were two characters the reader was supposed to think was one and it was pretty obvious to me that there were two bad guys. Well, more than two, but whatever. There were two crimes that were being confused but the reader knew they were different pretty quickly. I thought the big reveals were a bit slow and predictable. The book was fast-paced, though. I was, unfortunately, sick over the New Year and this kept me entertained while I recuperated on the couch.

Butch Karp was a good character and I’m glad to hear he has 27 other stories (26 before and one after). I wasn’t aware this was part of a series and it read fine on its own. Butch’s wife was not as well detailed and I’m guessing she has a bigger role in other books but she was a bit bland here. The villains were flushed out but it felt a lot like info dumping to get their back story. Micah and Tommy could have had a conversation to let their story out instead of reading about it in a multi-page catch-up.

Butch’s sons, Giancarlo and Zak, were my favorite characters. They are both on the verge of celebrating their Bar Mitzvahs and Zak has doubts about going through with the process that he comes to terms with though the book. He’s the only real character with growth which is what makes him easy to like. His twin brother seems to be naturally gifted but isn’t arrogant about it so they make a good pair.

The most relatable part of the story was how everyone reacted to the Neo-Nazis and what they had to say. It was hard to read and I hope it was hard for Tanenbaum to write the ignorant and vile things the Neo-Nazi characters would spew about minorities. I thought the author must be really cold to write the things he did, but in one scene he has an entire courtroom fuming mad over what one of the Neo-Nazis says and I felt better that he felt their opinions were as vile as I did.

Robert K. Tanenbaum Image via Publishers Weekly

Robert K. Tanenbaum
Image via Publishers Weekly

I liked that this book addressed how corrupted school systems can be. My husband is a teacher and it has ruined my opinion of the public schools in the US. The low pay rate and high union dues are beyond frustrating, especially as an individual who despises unions. It was a topic I hadn’t read about before and I liked the uniqueness of that.

I was quickly frustrated that the last third of this book was a courtroom hearing. A lot of the facts presented in the trial were rehashing the first part of the book. Very little new information was revealed besides who died in a bombing. It put a sour taste in my mouth because I’d enjoyed a lot of the first part of the book and then couldn’t wait for it to be over.


I was glad that this book had a pretty solid message about Judaism and tolerance. Many times thrillers don’t seem to have much of a message to me. Zak’s internal struggle with his faith and what it means to be Jewish was really uplifting, even as a Christian. Many religions have a celebration for reaching manhood (or womanhood) and it was good to see someone take that celebration so seriously and really mean what he’s doing.

Writer’s Takeaway: Like I’ve said, the internal conflict in this book was its saving grace to me. I think, too many times, authors forget to include and internal and external conflict in their books. While Butch is battling the school system, he’s also dealing with the death of a family friend. Zak is dealing with being kidnapped but also deciding if he’ll go through with his Bar Mitzvah. Having both is very important and helps skeptical readers (like me) connect with a story.

This book was fast paced but was a little lacking in a structure for me. Three out of Five stars.


Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
Book Reviews: Innocence by Heda Margolius Kovaly and Trap by Robert K. Tanenbaum | Buried Under Books

WWW Wednesday, 4-January-2017

4 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!


The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.

libraryCurrently reading: I wasn’t able to make much progress with World Without End by Ken Follett during the holiday break. I didn’t drive anywhere alone and didn’t feel like forcing my husband to listen in so I didn’t make much progress. I’ll press on, though! It’s still really enjoyable.
Also not much with The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge. It’s still enjoyable and I’m moving through it at a moderate pace, but it will still be a while.
I had a cold over the weekend so all of my plans of listening to South of Broad by Pat Conroy and enjoying some long runs were dashed and replaced by me cooped up in bed. Sigh.
I was able to start Misterio de la Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie as my Spanish-language read of the year. I hope I can move through this one quickly but my Spanish books always take longer because of the brain power they devour.
My husband and I started an audiobook together while we were driving to Ohio and back. We picked Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, the third and final book of the Peculiar Children trilogy. We both enjoyed the first book but were not big fans of the second. We’re a bit skeptical about this one and we keep trying to pick out if there’s a traitor. It’s fun trying to be one step ahead of everyone.

trapRecently finished: I flew through The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston. It was a much shorter read than it at first appeared because so much of the story was told through pictures. I would compare it to a graphic novel in that respect. The story was a bit bare boned but it was really enjoyable and I would recommend it highly.
I picked up a book I didn’t intend to this week. My brother’s girlfriend got us all books for Christmas and I finished Frankie Pratt sooner than expected so I picked up my gift, Trap by Robert K. Tanenbaum. It wasn’t my usual genre but I read it quickly. I’ll say that’s partly due to interest and partly due to being sick and unable to get out of bed or off the couch much.

statesofconfusionReading Next: I’m still waiting for States of Confusion by Paul Jury to come in from the library. I’m not sure how long ILLs take so this might be here for a while.

Shameless Plug: If you’re still looking for reading challenges in 2017, take a look at my historical fiction reading challenge, When Are You Reading? Let me know you’re interested and I’ll add you to the participant list. I had 13 people participate last year and I’d love to have a bigger group this year!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!