This isn’t going to be one of those reviews where I say a lot. The book was too good, and too overwhelming. I could do it, but it might break me to try. And I’d rather not be broken. So instead, in this review, you will probably get a bunch of nonsense strung together in some stream-of-consciousness excuse for review writing. I DON’T EVEN FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.
The Likeness is the second book in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books. You don’t need to have read the first book (In the Woods), but you really, really should. One, because it’s great. And two, because it will give you context for the story of Cassie Maddox in this book. I love Cassie. I loved her in the first book, and I love her even more in this one. Each book follows a different detective from the Murder Squad, and each book features previous characters in the series to different degrees. Cassie is the former partner of the protagonist in book one, and the protagonist in book two is Cassie’s supervisor in this one.
Anyway, in this one Detective Cassie Maddox, fresh from her own set of traumas (see: In the Woods) is caught up in a murder case of a woman who not only could be her identical twin, but it seems the woman has also been living on a fake identity created by Cassie years before for an undercover case. Hence: The Likeness. The uncanny resemblance is never really justified, and the fact that Cassie uses it to infiltrate the lives of Lexie’s closest friends is something that you just have to accept. If you can’t, you’re not going to enjoy the book. But if you can, this book is phenomenal. For me, that likeness was not a big deal. For me, it was obvious almost from the beginning it was just a (very powerful) way in for French to explore Cassie’s inner life by means of a metaphor made very real.
This is a book about identity, and about family and regret, and the things you’ve lost and can never get back. It’s about the things you have to give up to get the things you want, and the things you want being forever out of reach. It’s totally heartbreaking.
It’s also a murder mystery, with a truly enthralling (and frightening) mystery. But really, Tana French writes mystery books where the main thing you come for isn’t the mystery. The main thing you’re there for is the intense psychological work she does with her characters. I’ve never read a series before where an author is so able to suck you in to a fictional character’s mind to the point that it actually becomes difficult to separate yourself from that character. Finishing the book, or pulling away from the book in between listening sessions, was an exercise in discombobulation, every time. (The audiobook is EXCELLENT.)
I highly, highly recommend this series.