Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review #82: The Likeness by Tana French


The Likeness
Tana French

Description from author's website:

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 has 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 fin information that the police never would and 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 house the students live in, and Frank is starting to suspect that Cassie's growing emotional involvement could put the hwole investigation at risk. 

My Review:
Yes, it's as good as it sounds.
To say that this was an eagerly anticipated follow-up to In the Woods, is an understatement. I thought In the Woods was riveting. The Likeness rocked my socks (as Juju says from Tales of Whimsy!). 
I am a fan of really well written gritty psychological thrillers. They can be in your face intense, like Still Missing by Chevy Stevens or subtle and pulsing, like Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon. The Likeness is both.  
In the Woods showed us the team of Ryan and Maddox. The Likeness is all Maddox and she does what she does very well.   The plot is unbelievably believable. Her former undercover identity has been taken over by another girl who just happens to look just like her and just happens to show up dead.
The best way to solve this crime? Send Cassie back in as her former identity, though now a completely different persona, and make it seem like she survived. Crazy? Well, yes and balls-to-the-wall gutsy...but she does it. And you go along for her ride through this girl's life. 
Lexie Madison, the undercover identity, is a  graduate student living with four other students; Abby, Daniel, Rafe and Justin. Living in Daniel's ancestral home, the five students are as tight as tight can be; finishing each other's sentences, eating, working, studying, traveling together always. No outsider has ever gotten in. And none of them has ever left.
Cassie, having taken the move from Murder to Domestic Abuse, is itching to get back to undercover. Diving full in, she is calmed by the life they lead; the safe isolation, the closeness of their relationships, and the feeling of family. Having lost her parents at a young age, Cassie didn't realize how much she craved that sense of family and home.
The whole book is so intense that I could not put it down. I couldn't believe what they were doing and I wanted to see how they could pull it off. I loved the location, a small town outside Dublin. I loved the big old house they lived in. I loved the tension between Cassie and Frank, the lead Undercover detective. I loved Cassie's relationship with Sam, the lead detective on the Murder side of things. I loved how odd and alluring the four friends were and the bizarre relationship they all had.

And Cassie just rocks. Messed up, a little unorthodox, a bit moody but wickedly honest and a smart detective. I look forward to reading more about her.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
Overall, this is one of the best books I've read all year. It was exactly my kind of book. It had the elitist college students, the gritty detectives, atmospheric Ireland, tough women and a messed up who-dunnit crime. I was scratching my head up until the end wondering how it would end. I LOVE that! 

Book Club Note:
YES! Tana French is such a good writer and you would find plenty to talk about. The characters, the locations, the impossible crimes, the politics of Dublin. 

Other Book Info:
ISBN: 978-0-670-01886-4
Pages: 466
Publisher: Viking
Author website: Tana French

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

A favorite word of mine from this book. wankstain.
I think it's naughty and mean but i like that sound of it!

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

Great review, Michelle! It sounds good. Isn't it great to read books by your favorite author. I recently bought In the Woods at a library sale so I'll get to see how great her books are!

I like that word too...too funny!

Alaine said...

Excellent review, going to go and see if my library has any books by this author.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Top notch? Nice!

I had to giggle at your shout out to me.

Thank you darling!

Marce said...

Oh you are definitely making me want to try one of her books now. I will start with In the Woods as you recommended.

Exciting review Michelle.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Michelle...this sounds like a good one. I have her latest book and hope to get to it soon. It is a stand alone.

samantha.1020 said...

I'm glad that I read your review of this as I read In The Woods last year and really liked it. I've been meaning to read this book but kinda had forgotten about it. It sure sounds good. Great review!

Jenny said...

Oohhh I need to start this series!!

Celticlady's Reviews said...

I read In The Woods and loved it..I have The Likeness and her new one, Faithful Place...not read yet but soon, especially after your great review.... !!! Another great author is Erin Hart who has written three books that are mysteries that take place in Ireland...

Christine said...

You know I'm a romance girl through and through... but every once in a while I drift to other genres and this book sounds like the next one to grab me. I'll be looking for the first in this series at my library. Great review.

Ryan said...

Thanks to you I got to read In The Woods and I fell in love with the writer's style. I've been meaning to pick this one up but have been rather lazy about it. I'm going to gave to do so pretty soon or my head might just explode.