The Likeness by Tana French

Assuming you can buy into the premise and stick with it for 466 pages (22+hours),  the book is quite good although not, imo, as good as  French’s other Dublin Detective Squad mysteries. (This is #2 and I’ve read the other 5.)

The body of a  young woman is found in the woods,  dead  of a stabbing wound.  She’s  near an old house outside Dublin where she and five  other literature  PhD students from the local university live.   What is unusual (!) is that she looks just exactly like the detective, Cassie Maddox,  and is identified as Lexie Madison,  a character she and Detective Frank Mackey had invented for a prior case.  (yeah – okay).


The Likeness
by Tana French
2007   / 466 pages
read by Heather O’Neill
rating – A / crime – psychological thriller
(#2 in the Dublin Murder Squad series)
* note – this one is connected in some ways to #1, In the Woods,  but the others concern other crimes and other detectives on this squad –  #s 5 and 6 might be tangentially related –  these books can be read as stand-alones.

So,  because  Lexie’s roommates  at Whitethorn House don’t know she’s dead (no one knows – no next of kin)  Cassie impersonates the dead “Lexie” (whomever she is) and,  with bandages covering a microphone back to Frank, moves in when she’s “released” from the hospital.  The House is near Glenskehy,  an old village which in years long past was the servants’ quarters for the House.  The set-up is faintly gothic.

Got all that? –  Okay – that’s the set-up.  If you can get your disbelief to suspend around that the rest of the novel is terrific.

The most important part is the danger Cassie is in from the roommates, the town and her boss.   The detectives  figure the  guy who did it is still around, one of the housemates,   a college student maybe,  a member of that little community down the hill? – some other person?   Why does the victim have the same name as the  make-believe character Cassie and Frank invented?

It’s a long  (!) book,  but French knows all the tricks of psychological  tension,  plot and character building.  The four roomies are a bit strange in lots of  little ways, the town has plenty of grudges,  Mackey isn’t the most stable of back-ups,  motives abound,   etc.  Her almost boyfriend, Sam , is also around to telephone from a quiet tree along a walk Cassie takes each evening.

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