Four years later and in a different format, this book is still great. I always do audiobooks on my first reads of Tana French’s books. There’s something very satisfying about listening to someone telling you their innermost feelings, as her books do like no other, and the audio format only enhances that for me. But I’ve been doing paper copies on my re-reads, and that’s an interesting experience too. It takes it more out of the feelings and into the craft of it (the feelings are still there, though!). This time around I really appreciated this book as a piece of literature.
In simplest terms, this book is Cassie responding and recovering to the emotional trauma she experienced in the first book, though you don’t necessarily need to have read the first book to appreciate it (though why wouldn’t you?), and doing so by once again becoming involved in a murder case. French does that thing she always does where uses literary devices to mimic and draw out her characters’ emotional states. On the surface, Cassie becomes emotionally involved in the life of a murder victim who happens to look startlingly like her, to the point where it threatens her ability to do her job. Down below the surface, Lexie is a deliberate creation of the author, a dark mirror of Cassie’s life and recent experiences. This is both acknowledged by the characters, and not. Cassie knows they look almost identical, and can feel herself slipping into Lexie’s life, as an escape. But there are also unacknowledged parallels that elevate this likeness into symbolic territory. It is a very personal mystery, and the fallout because of that feels that much more terrible.
I didn’t keep notes while reading, otherwise this review would probably be 3,000 words long. There’s just so much depth here. Plus, it’s a great mystery! She really ruins me for other crime authors, though, because after I read one of her books I’m always expecting that amazing psychological depth from everyone else, too. On the other hand, if every mystery I read were like this one, I might be a puddle of goo on the floor. Simplicity and pure cleverness can have its place too.