The Trickster’s Lullaby – Barbara Fradkin

the trickster's lullaby


Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Dundurn

A winter camping trip turns deadly as two missing teenagers, a twisted love triangle, and the spectre of radicalism create turmoil in the remote Laurentian wilderness.

Amanda Doucette’s cross-Canada charity tour is in for a cold snap when she organizes a winter camping trip for inner-city young people in the stunning setting of the Laurentian Mountains. With a view to bridging cultural divides, she brings along a mixture of Canadian-born and immigrant youth.

Trouble begins when two of the teenagers disappear into the wilderness during the night: Luc, a French/English-Canadian with a history of drug use, and Yasmina, an adventurous young woman from Iraq who dreams of becoming a human rights lawyer. Although frantic, their parents are strangely secretive amid suspicions of drug use and forbidden romance. But when a local farmer turns up dead and terrorist material is found on Luc’s computer, the dangers turn deadly. Now in a battle against both the elements and police, Amanda and Corporal Chris Tymko discover a far greater web of secrets and deception.

As Amanda races to save the young people from danger, she finds herself fighting for stakes far higher than their own lives.

The Trickster’s Lullaby is an action packed mystery thriller that explores themes of self-radicalization of Canadian youth who are groomed and recruited by terrorist groups. Fradkin dives deep into the psychology of those vulnerable to the tactics used by terrorist organizations and what these tactics might be.

What initially drew me to The Trickster’s Lullaby was the author herself. Fradkin is a retired psychologist who now writes novels that explores different facets of the human psyche, more specifically why people turn bad. That is present throughout this novel. All of the characters that were accepted for the charity tour have faced many atrocities in their quest for a better life in Canada only to find that acclimating to Canadian culture brings along its own set hardships and difficulties. Fradkin also explores how young people raised in Canada can be radicalized and indoctrinated by ISIS recruiters given the relatively easy life they’ve lived. These recruiters are skilled manipulators who know the rights things to say and know when to push and apply pressure to make their target malleable. Fradkin does a phenomenal job of communicating this potential recruitment technique by framing it in a way readers who have not experienced war and its devastating consequences could understand how someone could be converted. This is easily the best part of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed the multiple perspectives used to tell the story. The introduction of different perspectives was timed perfectly. At a certain point Amanda’s perspective is too limited for the scope of the story, so having different perspectives and mindsets that offer more information and views on the situation gave the novel new life.

I haven’t read the first novel, Fire in the Stars, but I think these novels can be read as standalones without losing too much of the characters and their relationships to each other. Amanda is a formidable character who will not take no for an answer. She charges headfirst into danger if there’s a chance she can save a life. This quality makes her a frustrating character because a lot of the time she acts first then asks questions. However, this creates a significant amount of tension between the chapters as the reader puts together the information the characters don’t have access to yet.

Overall, The Trickster’s Lullaby is an action packed thriller that delivers more than a thrilling mystery to keep readers entertained. It also offers commentary and perspective into the psychological unknown of homegrown radicalization.

**I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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