6 December 2011

Review: THE LIKENESS, Tana French

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 900 KB
  • Print Length: 708 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0340924799
  • Publisher: Hodder (September 4, 2008)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002V092CY
  • Source: I bought it

Publisher's blurb

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 live in, and Frank is starting to suspect that Cassie's growing emotional involvement could put the whole investigation at risk. Another gripping psychological thriller featuring the headstrong protagonist we've come to love, from an author who has proven that she can deliver.

My take

No review could ignore the fact that this is an extremely long book, and that it really took me about 10 days to read, which is a very long time for me.

Part of what makes the book so long is that we are given an immense amount of back-story for all the main characters. However I did feel that in one relationship at least, the one between Cassie and her former boyfriend Rob, we were not given enough back-story. I think we were meant to have remembered what happened in the first title IN THE WOODS, and that would have been fine if I had read THE LIKENESS while the earlier book was fresh in memory. As it was, I floundered.

The plot of THE LIKENESS is an intriguing one on two levels - first of all it is a murder investigation into the death of a girl who is calling herself Lexie Madison, an identity created by Cassie Maddox and her boss at the time Frank Mackey. Not only is she using that name, but she is the spitting image of Cassie herself.

The second intriguing plot line is the decision to plant Cassie as Lexie in the house where Lexie has been living with four other students from Trinity College. Cassie's under cover preparation is reminiscent of the preparation of a spy, and there remains the question of whether she will be strong enough and disciplined enough to carry out her assignment to find out who killed Lexie without becoming emotionally involved. There are bets on whether she will last. How long Cassie stays under cover will be determined by how quickly she solves the murder.

I found reading the book slow, but not particularly heavy, going. There is no doubt that it is well written. I just became impatient for the break to come. However the breakthrough comes and still the book doesn't end. I think the purpose of the final two chapters is to make the reader question whether we have actually got the story correct, and to send us back through the book to check aspects of the plot. This is not an easy thing to do on a Kindle, and my attention was a bit half-hearted towards the end.

My rating: 4.3

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Marg said...

One of the things I did find interesting about this book is the way that Rob from Into the Woods was a character in the story without even appearing in the pages!

I still haven't read the next book after this one.

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review - well-done as ever :-). I completely agree about the length and slow-motion quality of The Likeness. I liked it well enough, but like you, I think it really needed some editing...

Maxine Clarke said...

I too think this book was far too long, in fact it has put me off reading more by her. There was not enough originality and payoff for all the effort the reader had to put in. And do students really live/behave like that these days? That part seemed lifted straight out of the Barbara Vine book on a similar topic. I also found the number of coincidences and likenesses impossible to credit.

Marce said...

I really want to try her books but I do not have the patience or appreciation for long books, they always become excessive in my opinion.

Great review, even though I think I will enjoy in the end it is to much of a risk.


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