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The Likenessby Tana French
It's hard to follow up a sterling debut with something that's equally riveting — and even harder to come up with a better book than the first one. But Tana French has pulled off just this feat with The Likeness, a harrowing novel that will keep you up till the wee hours, either because you can't stop reading or you're too afraid to sleep!
The Likeness is another masterpiece of suspense by Tana French. Reminiscent of The Secret History, this psychological thriller is wonderfully written and impeccably paced a perfect summer read.
Synopses & Reviews
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestselling psychological thriller In the Woods.
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 Madisonthe identity Cassie used years ago as an undercover detectiveand 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.
"Edgar-winner French blurs the boundaries between victim and cop, memory and fantasy, in this stunning sequel to her debut, In the Woods. Det. Cassie Maddox, a dead ringer for Lexie Madison, whose body has been found on the outskirts of the Irish village of Glenskehy, agrees to masquerade as Lexie in a police effort to identify her murderer. Cassie journeys to Whitethorn House, the rambling mansion Lexie shared with four fellow Ph.D. students and tells the friends that she survived the attack. As she probes deeper into the close-knit group, Cassie finds herself becoming emotionally attached to the stoic Daniel, sensitive Justin, gadabout Rafe and dependable Abby. But as tensions rise in the house and in Glenskehy, Cassie must decide if the biggest threat comes from without or lurks within. French cleverly subverts the conventions of the locked room mystery, ratcheting up the tension at every turn with her multidimensional characters. Readers looking for a new name in psychological suspense need look no further than this powerful new Irish voice. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Last year, Tana French published her first novel, a strong, long and Edgar Award-winning Irish mystery called "In the Woods." For "The Likeness," she has brought back detective Cassie Maddox and fashioned a plot that harks back to both Donna Tartt and Wilkie Collins. Here is French's setup. In this age of identity theft, suppose the thief is a dead ringer for the person whose identity... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) she stole, with the emphasis on "dead." That is, the story begins with the thief being found stabbed to death in a cottage not far from Dublin. And the person whose identity she'd filched is Detective Cassie Maddox — or, rather, Lexie Madison, her undercover alter ego from a case a few years back. The dead faux-Lexie, the police learn, was a graduate student who lived in Whitethorn House, an old pile that she owned with four mates, the five of them forming an envied group of semi-insufferable young brainiacs like the one in Tartt's "Secret History." Now add the fillip that the cops themselves discovered the body, a circumstance that gives rise to a bold plan called Operation Mirror. They will pretend that the dead woman survived her wounds. After a brief recovery period, she (played by Cassie, natch) will return to that high-octane commune, wearing a wire so that her fellow cops can listen in, all in the hope that she can nab her own murderer, as it were. In this way, Cassie resembles Magdalen Vanstone, the heroine of Collins' "No Name," who goes undercover to infiltrate the house of an odious relative. Credibility is hardly an issue in "The Secret History," and Collins carefully laid groundwork for the cat-and-mouse sparring of "No Name." But not for a single moment could I put faith in French's premise. One is expected to believe that Cassie not only looks exactly like "Lexie" (even if their height, weight, hair and features match, what about birthmarks and moles?) but talks just like her as well, not to mention that a policewoman can pass herself off as a grad student in English, even to the point of successfully tutoring undergraduates. (There is a suggestion that the welcome given the resurrected Lexie is a case of wishful thinking — that her housemates so desperately want her back that they beat down their own misgivings — but since we are limited to Cassie's first-person viewpoint, this remains little more than a possibility.) All of which means that the plot point on which the whole novel turns can't foil a halfway decent baloney detector, yet such is French's prowess as a storyteller and stylist that even this resisting reader got caught up in the story anyway. At first, Cassie takes her assignment as a challenge: "These four had harmonies close as the most polished a cappella group on the planet," she muses about her housemates, "and I had to pick up my line and join in the jam session without missing a single beat." But on getting to know "the Fantastic Four" (as she calls them behind their backs), she decides that they are less glamorous than they appear, that their incestuous tightness is a function of emotionally deprived childhoods, adult insecurity, the hothouse atmosphere of academe and a potent dose of fanaticism. As her masquerade goes on, the pride Cassie takes in seemingly pulling it off is tempered by a sense of oppression. "I had never, in all my life, spent so much of my time surrounded by people," she complains. "No pasts" is the house motto, and the residents have bound themselves by an additional pledge: "The five of us against the world, and no secrets, ever." But of course these are impossible rules to live by. Skillfully, French shows how they trip up the surviving residents of Whitethorn House, and Cassie/Lexie herself. By the time "The Likeness" is over, the reader will probably admire the author for sticking to her guns and doing her best with her material, but there simply is no getting around the material's cockamamie nature. I've never had a reading experience quite like this one: being fascinated by a book not only for its considerable merits but also because of its striking lack of connection with the real world. Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle, who is a contributing editor and the mysteries editor of The Washington Post Book World, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Suspense writing is clearly French's forte. Rather than employing cliff-hanger tactics, such as ending chapters with striking discoveries, French relies on more delicate revelations to engage readers all along." Rocky Mountain News
"French creates remarkably complex characters while gradually unpeeling the layers of her story in this rich and insightful psychological thriller. A stunner." Library Journal
"Police procedures, psychological thrills and gothic romance beautifully woven into one stunning story." Kirkus Reviews
"Ms. French resists genre conventions defiantly enough to have written a long, rambling book, one that is more interested in character revelations than in 'Aha!' moments about the plot....Cassie herself remains a strong enough character to sustain interest." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
The haunting follow up to the Edgar Award-winning debut In the Woods
Tana French astonished critics and readers alike with her mesmerizing debut novel, In the Woods. Now both French and Detective Cassie Maddox return to unravel a case even more sinister and enigmatic than the first. Six months after the events of In the Woods, an urgent telephone call beckons Cassie to a grisly crime scene. The victim looks exactly like Cassie and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used. Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl, but, more importantly, who is this girl? A disturbing tale of shifting identities, The Likeness firmly establishes Tana French as an important voice in suspense fiction. And look for French's other mysteries In the Woods, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, and The Secret Place for more of the Dublin Murder Squad.
Tana French's newest novel, The Secret Place, will be published by Viking on September 2nd, 2014.
About the Author
Tana French has lived in Ireland, Italy, the United States, and Malawi. She trained as a professional actress at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
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