The Likeness

Tana French's mystery will keep you glued to the book until the last, bittersweet page. | A book review by

(Thanks to Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy for the recommendation!)

I’ve heard good things about The Likeness, but it didn’t really sound like my thing. Until I came across it in a crazy good book sale at my local thrift store (I got nine books for $2! Can you blame me for getting a little carried away?).

The basic plot is this: Cassie, a police detective, has moved into the Domestic Violence department after something went awry in her last big murder case (this is the plot of the first book in the series, but you can read The Likeness as a stand alone–I did). But when a girl who looks eerily like Cassie turns up dead, and her ID is under the false name Cassie used when she was an undercover cop, Cassie is pulled back in. She takes on Lexie Madison’s voice, mannerisms, and clothes, and she goes to Whitethorn House as Lexie to live with her four roommates and hopefully lure out the killer.

It’s kind of a crazy premise, but Tana French pulls it off beautifully. Lexie and her friends all turn out to be much more complicated and loving than they appear from the outside, and Cassie finds herself being seduced by their simple, tight-knit way of life. But, of course, things are never quite what they seemed to be.

This book is haunting at times. It’s one of those books that feels like it’s Saying Something, about the attempt to escape from the daily grind and the horrible things we do to the ones we love the most, but without ever being heavy handed.

“Take what you want and pay for it,” one of the characters quotes, and each character in this book finds out how true that saying is before the story is over. It made me sad in a kind of wistful way–it’s a book that talks about the fact that sometimes love isn’t enough and sometimes the price you pay for the things you want turns out to be too high. The ending was a surprise, but at the same time it almost felt inevitable; it definitely fit with the tone of the book. I’m not sure if I’ll go back and read the first book in the series (I’ve heard it’s significantly darker), but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for new books by Tana French.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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