I’m a grown up now, so they say, so it’s been a really long time since I have been able to just pick up a book and become completely absorbed in it. For the most part, the days when I could polish off 200 pages in one sitting are long gone. Especially now that the hubs and I have our little one, I find myself sneaking in chapters when I can. Tana French’s The Likeness, however, grabbed my attention from page one and wouldn’t let go. I was so absorbed with this book I found myself reading it during baby’s nap times at the cost of a long shower or a workout. When I reached the point of no return and the mystery was unraveling last night, I couldn’t put it down. I turned the light out after midnight (WELL past my bedtime these days) with a mixture of sadness that it was over, excitement to have learned everything, and jumbled images of what the novel looked like in my mind. I loved this book and I want to sing its praises to everyone!
Likeness is the second in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. I enjoyed the first, In the Woods, but this one is even better. Cassie Maddox, whom we met in the first book of the series, is now working in Domestic Violence after the difficulty of putting the case from the first book behind her. She is all done with murders, or so she thinks. That is, until Lexie Madison is found dead in a remote Irish village. Lexie Madison is the identity Cassie and her former boss Frank Mackey created when she first went undercover, well before joining the murder squad. Even more shocking is how this mystery Lexie could be mistaken for Cassie’s identical twin. And this is how Cassie is sucked back into a life she thought she didn’t want anymore.
The premise to this novel should be off-putting to most of us – the odds of someone looking exactly like a detective who can then go undercover and pretend to have survived a murder attempt in order to suss out a proper suspect are slim to none. It’s a ridiculous premise. But I love Cassie (she was my favorite in In the Woods), and I was willing to go along for the ride. And what a ride it was! This novel had me guessing for most of its nearly 500 pages. French’s writing is rich and descriptive – so much so that I have a mental movie already of the story. I can picture the dilapidated ancestral home in which the five central characters lived, the country lanes Lexie walked on her late night outings, the four best friends Lexie spent all of her time with, etc. The novel is written from Cassie’s point of view so you don’t get the inner thoughts of the other characters (Rafe, Daniel, Justin and Abby), but I still felt like they were richly and sufficiently drawn. There are a lot of red herrings and lies and deceptions here, and it’s exciting and challenging to try and figure out what matters and what doesn’t.
I don’t want to describe too much of the plot because I don’t want to give anything away here; I think going into this mystery open-minded and unsullied makes for a great reading experience. I am sad to see Cassie and her story go. It isn’t often that a book sticks with me for days after finishing it, and this one will, I can tell. Well done Tana French, what’s next? I’m supposed to read Notorious RBG for my book club next but I may be able to squeeze in some more Irish murders…