Title: The Likeness
Series: Dublin Murder Squad, #2
Author: Tana French
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Viking Adult
Release Date: July 17th, 2008
Length: 466 pages | 22 hours, 20 minutes
Source: Borrowed from my local library
Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She’s transferred out of the murder squad and started a relationship with Detective Sam O’Neill, but she’s too badly shaken to make a commitment to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case: a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin. The dead girl’s ID says her name is Lexie Madison – the identity Cassie used years ago as an undercover detective – and she looks exactly like Cassie.
With no leads, no suspects, and no clue to Lexie’s real identity, Cassie’s old undercover boss, Frank Mackey, spots the opportunity of a lifetime. They can say that the stab wound wasn’t fatal and send Cassie undercover in her place to find out information that the police never would and to tempt the killer out of hiding. At first Cassie thinks the idea is crazy, but she is seduced by the prospect of working on a murder investigation again and by the idea of assuming the victim’s identity as a graduate student with a cozy group of friends.
As she is drawn into Lexie’s world, Cassie realizes that the girl’s secrets run deeper than anyone imagined. Her friends are becoming suspicious, Sam has discovered a generations-old feud involving the old house the students lived in, and Frank is starting to suspect that Cassie’s growing emotional involvement could put the whole investigation at risk.
Although I was bummed to not be in Rob’s head again (I love an unreliable narrator) or ever find out what happened to him as a child in the woods, French has crafted another atmospheric, creepy mystery with The Likeness.
Cassie Maddox is somewhat more relatable, as a woman still shaken from her previous case, who discovers within herself a desire to slip away from her own messy life and into someone else’s. Who hasn’t felt the lure of becoming someone else, especially if that someone has a charmingly simple existence? Except, of course, that there’s a good bit of smoke and mirrors going on. Most of the creep factor in this story is psychological- not whodunnit, but “what makes a personality?”
If you’re looking for a compelling murder mystery, you’ll likely find the slow pace difficult. If you’re looking for a haunting sensation, you’ll enjoy the few creepy-house/creepy-woods moments, but likely not get your fix. But if you’re looking for a contemplative story about identity, you’ll probably like it. Stick with the slow bits- the action doesn’t ever get breakneck, but the closer you get to Cassie, the more tense the situation becomes (Is she opening herself up to be burned? Is she going to give in to temptation and adopt Lexie’s life entirely? Or is she just really good at undercover?)