Sort of Liked The Likeness

Just finished reading Tana French's The Likeness, the second literary detective novel featuring Cassie Maddox, a weary detective in Dublin. The first was In the Woods--I have no recollection of the plot, as I read it a few years back and the details have since fled my brain. Something about some missing kids, and she and her partner Rob end up finding one of them, but there's a bleak ending. Most of this I recall because it's referenced in the second novel.

In any case, this plot centers around a girl who is found stabbed to death near an old mansion outside of the city. The twist is that she's a doppleganger for Cassie, and she happens to be using Cassie's old undercover identity. It sounds a bit on the soap opera side, you know, like when an evil twin suddenly surfaces and wrecks havoc on things, but it doesn't read that way.

Cassie, who has transferred out of the undercover life and into the numbing hell of domestic violence, is persuaded to go back in undercover, this time posing as Lexie, the dead girl. The detectives are able to come up with some tale for her roommates about how she wasn't really dead---she may have appeared to be dead, but it was hypothermia and now she's in a coma. Cassie watches all of these old videos of the dead girl to get down her voice and her personality, and then she returns to the house where Lexie lived with four other odd graduate students from Trinity College.They've created this comfortable family life in this old but interesting house, and spend their evenings reading or working together to repair the house. Cassie immerses herself in their lives and they accept her. Meanwhile, she's trying to figure out who might have stabbed Lexie--could it be someone in this group? An angry ex-boyfriend? Someone who is actually after Cassie, but not Lexie? In the meantime, the detectives on the outside are attempting to puzzle together the identity of this mystery girl, without much luck.

Do you want to know who killed her? It does not come as much of a surprise. What's more interesting is how Cassie falls in love with this life that doesn't belong to her, and these people who are virtual strangers.There is a bit of a fairy tale-like ending, where Cassie gets engaged to her steady, good boyfriend, the case is solved, and she is able to reconnect with one of the members of the house later. And then, if I'm not mistaken, there's a bit of a mystery remaining as to whether or not they caught the right murderer, or if this person took the fall for someone else (here, I'm momentarily resisting the urge to Google what other readers thought of the ending). Overall, I recommend the book, but only if you are interested in reading a thriller that's got a slow burn, and focuses more on the psychology of wanting to be accepted than it does on the motive for murder.

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