I have to got to hurry up and write this review before it drops another star. For me this book was like an extrememly rich meal; you enjoy it and even relish it for a while, but pretty soon you are getting nauseated and you know you are really going to regret it the next day. And maybe even the day after that.
Cassie Maddox is trying to get her life and career on track after the terrible fallout from Operation Vestal (See In the Woods). I really liked her character in that novel and was glad to see her taking a starring role in this one. For all her bravado, she’s not okay though.
“Being easily freaked out comes with its own special skill set: you develop subtle tricks to work around it, make sure people don’t notice. Pretty soon, if you’re a fast learner, you can get through the day looking almost exactly like a normal human being.”
While working Domestic Violence, she starts each day down at the firing range. After shooting the crap outta paper targets she’s calm enough to get on with life and the Job. Soon, though, this tenuous arrangement is upended when her physical doppelganger is found dead, carrying her old Undercover ID. Lexie Madison was the brainchild of Cassie and her then boss Frank Mackey, where she posed as a student at Trinity College in order to infiltrate the drug trade. After several months, she was stabbed by a freaked out dealer and the identity was retired. Only someone who looks an awful lot like Cassie gets a hold of that identitiy and uses it to enroll at Trinity, where she falls in with an insular group of post-grads who all live in a tumbledown mansion. Then her ex-boss Frank gets the bright idea that they should say Lexie wasn’t killed, just gravely injured. Then Cassie can infiltrate the group and find the killer. Yeah, you heard that right.
I really tried to side-eye that whole ludicrous set up and just enjoy some nicely complex characters and lovely writing. Ultimately, though, I just couldn’t get past that premise. Cassie/Lexie becomes more enchanted and mesmerized by that incestuous little group and takes things too far. They manage to salvage the investigation and not get charged by Internal Affairs but Cassie is even more damaged than before.
Still, I won’t let this throw me off Ms. French and her oeuvre. I know that the next two books are in that pile of “to reads” and hope to shoehorn them in soon.