I bought Tana French’s The Likeness at The Mysterious Bookstore, a famous mystery-only bookshop in downtown Manhattan. It was my first visit to the store, which was awesome–definitely go if you have the chance.
The Likeness is the second book in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, the first being In The Woods. I recently read In the Woods, which introduced me to most of the characters in The Likeness. However, it is not necessary to read the books in order. I was really excited to pick up this book as I was highly intrigued by the summary, and I love Tana French’s writing.
The haunting follow up to the Edgar Award-winning debut In the Woods.
Tana French astonished critics and readers alike with her mesmerizing debut novel, In the Woods. Now both French and Detective Cassie Maddox return to unravel a case even more sinister and enigmatic than the first. Six months after the events of In the Woods, an urgent telephone call beckons Cassie to a grisly crime scene. The victim looks exactly like Cassie and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used. Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl, but, more importantly, who is this girl?
The Likeness begins with the discovery of the murdered body of a girl who looks exactly like detective Cassie Maddox. She had been going by the name Lexie Madison, an alias that Cassie herself had used in a previous undercover case. Cassie assumes Lexie’s identity and returns to live with her roommates, a group of five literature Phd students. As the weeks go by, the lines between Cassie and Lexie become blurred, and Cassie becomes obsessively attached to her murdered double. Soon, she discovers the secrets that Lexie’s roommates are hiding.
Tana French credited Donna Tartt’s The Secret History with inspiration for this book, which definitely piqued my interest. It reads like TSH from the perspective of an outsider detective. The mysterious, possibly murderous group of intellectual English PHD students featured in The Likeness definitely mirrors The Secret History‘s characters. At times The Likeness did feel like a cheap copy, but in my opinion anything would pale in comparison to The Secret History.
Tana French is quickly becoming one of my favorite mystery authors. Her writing is far more literary and descriptive than that of most suspense writers. Her characters are realistic and multi-dimensional, and the plots of her stories are inventive and exciting. After meeting Cassie in In the Woods, I really enjoyed looking at the world through her perspective this time. Having a multi-faceted female detective as the lead character was unique and inspirational.
Something that bothers me about The Likeness, and French’s books in general, are the loose ends that she doesn’t tie up. The conclusions of both In the Woods and The Likeness felt hasty and left me with many questions. I wish that French’s Murder Squad series had a more fluid connection between books. Instead of picking up where she leaves off, she plunges right into a completely new story in each new book, leaving the reader to wonder what happened to previous characters.
Although The Likeness’ plot was interesting, the book itself was unnecessarily long. The search for a murder suspect occasionally became confusing and redundant. Overall, however, I never lost interest in the book.
The Likeness has one of the most unique mystery plots I’ve ever read. While it did drag on at times, it was filled with great characters, beautiful writing, and suspense. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of The Secret History, murder mysteries, and/or strong female lead characters.