Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: "The Likeness" by Tana French

From Goodreads:  Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still recovering, Transferred out of Dublin's Murder squad at her own request, she vows never to return. That is, until her boyfriend, Detective Sam O'Neill, calls her one beautiful spring morning, urgently asking her to come to a murder scene in the small town of Glenskehy.

It isn't until Cassie sees the body that she understands Sam's insistence. The dead girl is Cassie's double, and she carries ID identifying her as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie herself used years ago when she worked undercover. The question becomes not only who killed this girl, but who was this girl.

Frank Mackey, Cassie's former undercover boss, sees the opportunity of a lifetime, Having played Lexie Madison once before, Cassie is in the perfect position to take her place. The police will tell the media and Lexie's four housemates that the stab wound wasn't fatal. And Cassie will go on living Lexie's life until the killer is lured out to finish off the job.

It's a brilliant idea, until Cassie finds herself more emotionally involved in Lexie's life than she anticipated. Sharing the charming ramshackle old Whitethorn House with Lexie's strange, tight-knit group of university friends, Cassie is slowly seduced by the victim's way of life, by the thought of working on a murder investigation again, and by the mystery of the victim herself.

As Cassie nears the truth about what happened to Lexie Madison and who she really was, the lines between professional and personal, work and play, reality and fantasy become desperately tangled, and Cassie moves closer to losing herself forever.

My Thoughts:  Tana French is not your average murder mystery writer.  Her books are dark and deep and after I finished In the Woods, I was depressed for a week.  Her characters feel real but are so damaged that it's hard on the reader (or at least on me).  The Likeness started out kind of slow but became more fast paced as the story went on.  I liked that the French brought Cassie back as a main character but it was difficult to stay engaged with the character because she was so messed up.  I did enjoy the character of Frank Mackey and am excited that French's third novel showcases him.  He was tough and snarky and pretty entertaining overall.  The main thing that bothers me about this book besides the fact that it is super dark, is the lack of real resolution at the end of the book.  This book does not end nicely and all the loose ends are not tied up and Cassie seems almost more damaged than she did at the beginning of the book.  I know i shouldn't always expect a happy ending but after the awful way that In the Woods ended, I was really hoping for one in this book.  If you like more depth than the average murder mystery provides, you will like this book.  Although I highly recommend that you do not read this book if you have not already read In the Woods.  You will not be able to understand the constant flashbacks to Operation Vestal and the psychological damage it wreaked on Cassie if you don't already have that background.  3 stars.

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