The Likeness is the second book in Tana French’s series set in the Dublin Murder Squad.
The story has a fascinating premise. The protagonist, Detective Cassie Maddox is summoned to a crime scene. The victim is Cassie’s almost exact look alike and carries an ID identifying her as Alexandra Madison. Not only could the victim be Cassie’s twin, she’s using the name Cassie used when she worked undercover.
Cassie agrees to assume the mysterious girl’s name and identity, and go undercover to find the killer while at the same time trying to discover who this girl really is.
Cassie Maddox is a fascinating character. We first met her in Ms. French’s first book, In the Woods, where she was intriguing and complex as the partner of the main character.
In The Likeness, she blossoms even more into a full-blown person, dealing with her own past and moving with tentative steps into her future. Cassie Maddox is as complex, as vulnerable, and as strong as Maisie Dobbs of Jacqueline Winspear’s novels. Cassie’s relationship with her new lover is well done. The external and internal conflicts over her going undercover into a houseful of murder suspects is psychologically revealing.
This is a well-written psychological mystery with a literary style reminiscent of Elizabeth George and P.D. James. I really enjoyed the psychological aspects of the story. Ms. French pulls us into Cassie’s mind as the character explores the world she finds herself in and finds herself liking the victim and the suspects she is living with.
There are a couple of areas I think the story could be improved. All the characters are interesting but the story feels like it goes on too long and at times feels a little repetitious. It seems to sag in the middle, feeling like it is going over the same ground.
The other disappointment, the main character in the first book, Rob Ryan, is only mentioned in passing in this one. He and Cassie were lovers, and broke up at the end of In the Woods. I would have liked more exploration of the break (only six months have passed) and more effort to find out where Ryan is now. Just to wrap up the loose end.
In her series, Ms. French uses a technique I find very intriguing. Each book has a different first person narrator. The story world shifts with each narrator’s perspective. I’ve read the first chapter of her third book in the series. In it, she takes a significant character from The Likeness and makes him the first person narrator.
The red herrings planted along the way that are very plausible and keep the reader hooked throughout, thinking each one could be the killer.
In this book, Ms. French maintains the suspense until the final revelation and the last twist is extremely well done, giving the book a very satisfying and believable ending.
I rate the book 4 out a possible 5 stars.
Caveat: This is a general market book. The language is strong in some places and there are references to alcohol abuse and some sexuality.
This is an independent review. Neither the publisher nor the author provided a copy of the book or requested a review.
Your well-written and honest review was enough to encourage me to not buy the book. I like to think of myself as a good detective and might buy it just to see if I could spot the red herrings.
Laughing at myself. I just re-read my comment which I cannot edit. It is rather dis-jointed. I deleted the sentence explaining why I possibly would not enjoy reading the book which caused me to think about red herrings. Have a great day.
Hi Dorothy, Thanks for stopping by.
I probably should have clarified that she plants the red herrings and plays them so well, it is hard to spot them.