Book Review: The Likeness

The likenessMy first taste of Tana French was reading In the Woods last spring. Then I read Faithful Place. Of the two, In the Woods was better since the villain was a little less obvious. Still, I love this woman’s writing style. Absolutely love it. It gets wordy, but man – you feel like you are RIGHT THERE.

The Likeness continues the ongoing saga of cases handled by the Dublin Murder Squad. This time, Detective Frank Mackey plays a secondary character and Detective Cassie Maddox takes the spot as protagonist.

There’s been a murder. A young girl by the name of Lexie Madison has been stabbed and left for dead in an old, abandoned cottage. When officers arrive on the scene they are blown away in disbelief to discover that the victim bears an incredible likeness to Detective Maddox. It’s uncanny, strange. Furthermore, the name and persona of “Lexie Madison” has already been used – by Cassie, in a former case.

Evidence suggests that Lexie wasn’t killed in the cottage. She was moved. Things were arranged. All signs point to the housemates. Being the creative character her is, Frank sees this likeness as an opportunity for a game of pretend. After a few minor adjustments to her physical appearance and a quick debriefing, Cassie resumes her former role as Lexie Madison to infiltrate the house where she’s been living with four other people, genius outcasts who didn’t know that Lexie wasn’t Lexie to begin with.

Similar to the other Tana French books I’ve read, I had a good idea to the guilty party. You might think that wouldn’t make the book interesting, but I enjoy French’s writing so dearly that presuming who committed the crime does not detract from the tension. I consumed this book in four days, and it’s 400 pages. The tension and pacing is what makes her books solid thrillers.

Unlike The Girl on the Train, with its cliché victim/villain equation and simplicity, The Likeness is original in content and creativity. It puts readers in every scene, like a bystander. We get to observe and absorb clues just like the detectives. We experience suspicion and stress just like the characters, which I argue can only be accomplished by stellar writing.

So yeah. I really like Tana French. You should give her a try.

Buy The Likeness here. 


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