Friday, September 06, 2019

Fiction Review: The Likeness

My transition book from Big Book Summer to my dark & creepy fall reading for RIP Challenge was The Likeness by Tana French. This is the second book in her popular Dublin Murder Squad series. I read the first one, In the Woods, way back in 2013, and I don't know why I waited so long to read book 2 because she is such a good writer. I was completely immersed in this compelling and unique murder mystery.

Cassie Maddox, a detective who was featured in French's first novel, In the Woods, has transferred to a quieter job in Domestic Violence ("quieter" is relative) when she gets a call in the middle of the night from her boyfriend, Sam, who is a Murder Squad detective. When Cassie arrives at the scene, she is in for a shock (as Sam was earlier) because the murdered victim, lying in an abandoned cottage in a remote village, is a young woman who looks exactly like Cassie. Even more puzzling, her ID card identifies her as Lexie Madison, an undercover alias that Cassie and her boss, Frank Mackey, invented for Cassie years ago. How is it possible that this look-alike is using Cassie's made-up identity? And, more importantly, who killed her and why? After a few days of quiet investigation, Frank convinces Sam that the only way to solve the case is from the inside, with Cassie going undercover again, as a different version of Lexie. They had carefully lied to Lexie's four housemates and said Lexie was in a coma, in order to keep this option open, so they tell them she woke up and is recovering, quickly prep Cassie using videos Lexie made, plus hasty investigations, and send Cassie as Lexie "home," even though it's possible that one of the four people she lives with could be the one who killed her. These five grad students are an odd bunch, sharing a huge old house that one of them inherited from an uncle in this small village, carpooling into school each day and living a very insulated - and oddly old-fashioned - existence together. Cassie is able to convince them she is Lexie and lives a strangely comfortable and pleasant life them for weeks, as the investigation continues.

Intriguing set-up, right? Just the concept of undercover work, pretending to be someone else - which is detailed here, both in the present and in flashbacks to Cassie's earlier experience - is fascinating, but when combined with this particular situation with a look-alike and a stolen fake identity, it is truly mind-blowing and completely compelling right from page one. This novel was the very definition of a page-turner, which was perfect during my sick days the past few weeks, though I did stay up too late each night! Although it is a murder mystery and begins and ends with violence, much of the middle is an intriguing puzzle, as Cassie/Lexie lives in a sort-of protected bubble with this odd group of misfits who care about each other very much and have made an unusual life together. That part of the novel is very immersive, making you feel as if you are in the midst of the group with Cassie. Little by little, though, she begins to see cracks in their perfect surface, as the tension increases. The mystery itself kept me guessing right up until the end, with plenty of possible suspects presented. I loved everything about this novel - the growing suspense, the mystery, the characters, and the whole captivating concept of undercover work. This is definitely my favorite of the series so far, and I won't let another six years go by before I read book 3, Faithful Place!

NOTE: There are plenty of references to what happened in In the Woods, though there is enough information provided to catch you up on what's important, so the books do not have to be read in order.

466 pages, Penguin Books

OMG!! I just found out that Starz has a new TV series, Dublin Murders, starting sometime this fall (no exact release date yet) based on In the Woods and The Likeness. I can't wait! But I have to wait since we don't get Starz...probably a whole year before it hits Netflix. It looks amazing!




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Listen to a sample of the audio book. While I read this one in print, I love hearing the Irish accent in this audio and think that would add an extra element to the book.


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6 comments:

  1. This sounds really good! And a Netflix series in the making? Sign me up. Adding it to my TBR list

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    1. Not Netflix but Starz...but Netflix usually runs Starz series a year or two later - I hate having to wait! You should definitely try the books, Helen!

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  2. I loved Broken Harbor, and this one sounds great, too. I really need to get back to this series!

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    1. Oooh...I haven't read Broken Harbor yet, Megan - thanks for the recommendation!

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  3. The premise is absolutely wonderful! I’ve been meaning to read Into the Woods for awhile now, and since I have Starz and have been looking for something new to watch, I will have to start reading....and watching! Thanks for the great review.

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    1. Lucky you! You can watch it this fall on Starz! Better get reading, Jane!

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