BOOK CLUB: The Bait Trap

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The Bait Trap by Australian author Lynne Johnson is a work of fiction in the crime, suspense, and romance subgenres.

Sydney Detective Sergeant Zac Byrne works in the drug squad. His drinking is no longer just a casual social activity but has become a daily habit. Struggling with alcoholism, he checks himself into Shangri-La Private Hospital, or as those in the revolving door of rehab like to call it La-La Land. 

His wife Jenny can’t take it any more, especially after putting their daughter Skye at risk. She asks for a separation. 

Newly sober Bryne is sent to investigate the disappearance of a well-known local, John Judd in the Australian Riverina bush town of Coodina. A mouse plague is terrorising the small town and locals are divided by a planned coal seam gas mine. Byrne teams with local police officer, Marko Bozic to uncover the truth of Judd’s disappearance.

The locals are hell bent on keeping the truth from a city detective. This just adds to the suspicion that one of them is a killer. As secrets are uncovered can the answer lie in a hidden bush cabin owned by Judd?

If there is a style of fiction that can get me to sit up and take notice, it is a beautifully paced character study set against a backdrop of adversity and the step-by-step overcoming of that adversity. Johnson has written a stellar tale of that very nature.

Zac Byrne is an excellent protagonist whose characterisation naturally evolves throughout the story as the events of the narrative promote change and growth. He has gone through such a challenging time with separation and sobriety, and many hurdles to overcome. His determination to pursue the truth until the end, at the cost of his relationships, will have you rooting for him.

The cast of characters were authentic and relatable. They charm their way into your heart with their ordinary lives and salt-of-the-earth personalities. The conversations between the characters maintain the perspective of a lot of activity going on within a closed community which adds to the novel’s realistic tone. And, the author captures the ambience of the remote bush town and its people perfectly.

The story is fast-paced, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. It was action-packed, and I could not stop turning the pages with all the twists and turns. I never knew what to expect next and found myself going back to reread a few chapters just to make sure I did not miss anything. Overall, it is a clever whodunnit that will keep the reader guessing.

The writing is descriptive enough to make you feel you are there and compelling enough to keep you reading all the way through. It is a story of damaged people who find their way back to the light as they begin to heal from their own traumas. 

For her debut novel, Lynne Johnson draws on her struggles with alcoholism which inspired her to write The Bait Trap. She incorporates this into the fictional storyline giving multilayers to her characters. I thought this was very commendable of her to be so open and share part of herself and other people’s lives who struggle with addiction. This is one author to watch.

Both well-balanced and alluring the book cover feels like the perfect image and fits tremendously well with the book without giving too much away. I also loved the large print which not many books have, I find it so much easier to read. 

 If you love to read crime mysteries, you will not go wrong with this one. I highly recommend it.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Bait Trap by Lynne Johnson. You can read their comments below or add your own review.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Bait Trap

  1. Written by Aussie author Lynne Johnson, The Bait Trap is an Australian novel set in Cooinda, NSW.

    The Bait Trap is about Powerlessness, forgiveness, redemption and freedom. Zac Byrne is sent to investigate the disappearance of local Judd.

    This was such a great read, my first of Lynnes and I thoroughly enjoyed it

    Thankyou Beauty and Lace, Lynne Johnson and Johnson Publishing PTY LTD for my personalised signed copy of The Bait Trap.

  2. The Bait Trap was a very interesting read, a murder mystery with cop who is a recovering alcoholic.
    When a local farmer goes missing Detective Zac Byrne is sent out to investigate, he’s resentful at first at being sent out to ‘The sticks’ the change of scenery helps his healing process as he investigates the farmers disappearance, all whilst he’s fighting an attraction to the missing farmers daughter.
    The book tackles some big issues in alcohol abuse and was an interesting insight.
    There was no twist with who the murderer was, it was pretty straight forward but still a really intriguing book to read that had me sucked in.
    Thank you Lynne Johnson for the lovely signed book and Beauty and Lace.

  3. The Bait Trap is Lynne Johnson’s debut novel and what a fabulous novel it is !
    John Judd is a well-liked property owner in a small country town in the Australian Riverina district. When he and his ever-present dog Ruby go missing, big city Detective Sergeant Zac Byrne is sent to investigate. Overlaying this storyline, which had lots of twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, is an awareness provoking tale of the ravages of alcoholism, told through the eyes of Byrne who is a newly recovering alcoholic. Marriage breakdown, separation from children, impacted professional reputation, guilt and self-esteem, sit in the background as Byrne and the local Police Officer he is partnered with, Bozic, dig deep to locate Judd. The grisly discovery of human remains, which is subsequently identified as Judd, turns the investigation into the search for a killer.
    Johnson’s writing style is very descriptive and the characters so detailed and relatable that I felt I knew everyone by the end of the book and once started I couldn’t put it down.
    The novel draws on the author’s personal struggle with alcoholism and the Author’s note at the end is very thought provoking. Congratulations Lynne for your bravery and recovery.
    Loved this book and highly recommend it.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Lynne Johnson for the opportunity to read and review The Bait Trap.

  4. This is Lynne Johnson’s debut book and after reading and finishing the storyline, we will be seeing more of Lynne’s writing I am sure of it.

    I am one of these readers that absorb the front of book covers. They draw me into the book and the cover on this book is absolutely brillantly, beautiful.

    The story revolves around Detective Sergeant Zac Byrne who works for the drug squad and he struggles with alcoholism. He is married to Jenny who wants a separation and he has a 17 year old daughter Skye.

    A small town in Australia, NSW called Cooinda has a missing person named John Judd and his dog that was always with him and Byrne is sent out to investigate. Marko Bozic who is a Sergeant at the town assists Byrne in finding the missing Judd.

    Locals always cagey when a detective hits town and asking questions.

    I absolutely loved the storyline and it is a real page turner. A lot of suspense, twist and turns, murder, tears of sadness and just a little romance written through this crime storyline. I always try to work out who the killer could be or what happened but just couldn’t pin point this one till towards the end of the book.

    Honestly, reading this book you will be on the edge of your seat and want to know who, what, how and why.

    I even worried about the missing dog being a dog lover.

    The author tells us that she has suffered from alcoholism and it is portrayed in the book for Byrne. I had an aunt who suffered from this condition and it’s true in what Lynne says about not bad people trying to become good but sick people trying to get better. It’s hard for them and for the ones that make it through, they need so much understanding.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace, Johnson Publish Pty Ltd and of course Lynne Johnson. I will cherish this book because it is addressed to me and signed by Lynne with a thank you note for choosing her book to read. I have already mentioned to friends who love crime stories to go out and buy this book. I look forward to reading more books from you in the future.

  5. Thank you so much to Beauty and Lace, Lynne Johnson and Johnson Publishing for choosing me to review The Bait Trap.
    I was really blown away by Lynne’s kindness with her personalised message and autograph in the book. This attention to detail means a lot.

    The novel was a real page turner from page 1. I found myself walking around the house reading it whilst getting other things done.

    I really love the genre of mystery, thriller, suspense etc and The Bait Trap did not disappoint. The way the characters evolved throughout the novel was beautifully written.
    I really enjoyed the different themes throughout The Bait Trap. There was kindness, forgiveness and redemption and they really worked.

    I liked that the novel was based in Australia also.
    I really cannot speak highly enough of The Bait Trap, it was powerful, beautifully written and a fantastic debut novel.
    With a debut like this I think that Lynne will have a successful career in writing.

  6. Thank you to Beauty and Lace, Johnson Publish Pty Ltd for allowing me to read this book. Thank you also is particularly extended to Lynne Johnson for the personalised message. It was a locely surprise to not only receive the book but also to read the message enclosed.

    The Bait Trap introduces us to Zac Byrne who is a fallen detective, recovering from alcoholism. He is sent to a small town to uncover the circumstances of a missing local and while investogating, uncovers some of the town secrets as well as his own demons.

    The story is fast paced and weaves the characters lives together meaningfully. Of particular note is the author’s understanding of alcoholism and the effects it has on the lives of others.

    I have already recommended this book and author to others and look forward to what is next from Lynne Johnson (and Zac Byrne!).

  7. Wow what a great read!

    In the Aussie town of Cooinda, family man John Judd goes missing, and all signs point to a mysterious sinkhole. City cop Zac Byrne teams up with local officer Marko Bozic to uncover the truth, revealing a hidden bush cabin that holds the key. As they dig deeper, they confront a town divided by issues and buried secrets. With tensions rising, Byrne finds himself drawn to Judd’s daughter, Thea. “The Bait Trap” is a gripping tale of mystery, forgiveness, and redemption in the heart of the Riverina bush.

    This book keeps you on the edge of your seat, reading frantically to get to the next page to find out what happens next – you wont be disappointed.

  8. Firstly I loved my personally address and signed copy- thankyou Lynne !
    “The Bait Trap” by Lynne Johnson is a gripping debut novel that weaves a tale of mystery, love, and community in the heart of the Australian Riverina bush town of Cooinda. The narrative unfolds with the sudden disappearance of John Judd, a beloved local figure, leaving the community in disarray.

    Set against the backdrop of a town grappling with a divisive coal seam gas mine proposal and a looming sense of family secrets, the story takes unexpected turns as city cop Zac Byrne is called in to investigate Judd’s mysterious vanishing act. Byrne, already dealing with personal turmoil, forges an unlikely partnership with the open-hearted local cop, Marko Bozic. Together, they navigate the complexities of the town, where allegiances are tested, and the truth is a well-guarded secret.

    Johnson’s writing is evocative, capturing the essence of the Australian bush and the tensions simmering beneath the surface of Cooinda. The pacing is well-executed, maintaining a perfect balance between suspense and character development. The author successfully crafts a debut novel that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

  9. Thank You Beauty & Lace and Lynne Johnson for the opportunity to read and review The Bait Trap. And a huge thank you to Lynne for the personalised message!

    Where do I begin?! What an incredible read! I was hooked from the first chapter and found myself neglecting life to finish it!

    I feel like this book had a bit of everything and I could feel the passion of an amazing author in her work- I cannot wait to see what is next . I have lent my copy to my dad who is recovering from a stroke (who I know will love it!)

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