The Likeness: A Novel
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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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Delicious, You'll Eat Up Every Word!
    French has a unique talent in today's literary world, a writing talent that combines a terrific story line, with great character development and simply superior writing. I lapped up every beautiful sentence written in The Likeness and I can't wait for more. While I loved, In The Woods, The Likeness, unbelievably, is even better.

    Cassie, a detective we met in In The Woods, is biding her time in the Domestic Violence Department instead of the Murder unit where she clearly belongs. Nothing, however, could tempt her to go back to working with her old boss, Frank, in Undercover until she gets an offer she can't refuse. A murder victim, who looks eerily like Cassie, has taken on one of Cassie's former undercover identities. She must go back to Undercover and try to solve the murder if she wants her life back.

    While Undercover, Cassie finds herself torn between the job she is committed to doing and the new life she finds among the murdered girl's housemates. This beautifully written mystery takes keeps the reader on his/her toes as is French's style. French's use of backflash nudging readers to "pay attention" is particularly effective. Sit back, relax, and enjoy! Can't wait for the next Tana French Offering....more info
  • Very disappointed.
    In The Woods was rich and evocative and everything The Likeness is not. The second book was amateur hour. The novel started well, but was really just a dull, tired attempt at a follow-up. French phoned-in the part about the identity switch (which could have been interesting...but became a novel idea turned to afterthought).

    The actual story was just a group of elitist intellectual nutjobs. Donna Tartt did this ten thousand times better in The Secret History. There are no layers or depth to The Likeness....more info
  • The Doppleganger
    Tana French is a superb writer who never says in a paragraph what she can state in five pages. With enough plot for a short story, this acclaimed author has filled 466 pages with lengthy conversations and precise descriptions of everything under the sun, utilizing a prose that makes you beg for the comparative terseness of an Agatha Christie.

    There's also the major plot point that one must swallow whole: a young woman is killed, and a detective, who lives nearby, is her identical, yet unrelated, twin. Why not substitute one for the other to discover the killer? Consequently, our heroine moves in with the dead woman's four roommates, none of whom notice the switch.

    I found myself completing this novel more as a chore than an enjoyment. Possibly if The Likeness had not been billed as a mystery, I would not have felt I had been bilked out of time I could have better spent learning Dutch, baking a pie, or cleaning under my desk.

    An example: "I switched off my torch and waited there, in the cottage, while Ned sloshed through the grass and found his way back to his studmobile and Panzered off towards civilization, the throb of the SUV tiny and meaningless against the the huge night hillsides. Then I sat down against the wall of the outer room and felt my heart beat where hers had finished beating. The air was soft and warm as cream; my arse went to sleep; tiny moths whirled around me like petals. There were things growing beside me out of the earth where she had bled, a pale clump of bluebells, a tiny sapling that looked like hawthorn: things made of her."

    If you are fans of sentences that can connect warm cream, a sleeping behind, and flower-like insects, look no further than French. However, for a quick, engaging read, you must search elsewhere....more info
  • Good, but too many motifs copied from Secret History
    I enjoyed this book; however, I found many themes and events to be disturbingly similar to Donna Tartt's fabulous book The Secret History, so much so that it seemed to be skimming the borders -- if not of plagiarism -- then certainly of authorial integrity. The themes of an outsider trying to break into a tight-knit group of young students who are themselves isolated in a cluster from society as a whole is strikingly similar, as are some of the characters, and even they way they talk and chatter together, mixing banal, intellectual, humorous and querulous voices. The unraveling of the group after a serious crime is also extremely similar. I found myself almost wondering if Donna Tartt had written this book under a pseudonym! I loved The Secret History, but it can't be replicated. Although French's book is interesting, as a copy of SH it falls short, flat; it lacks Tartt's lyrical prose and seamless grasp of the mysterious. I hope French writes more books, as I am eager to read more of her, but I also hope she writes in her own voice about stories that are hers alone to tell. ...more info
  • Loved everything about it!
    I don't know about you, but I read mysteries and thrillers the same way I eat popcorn. In big, greedy handfuls, with bits and pieces falling to the wayside. Not really savoring it, just one goal in mind, get to the end. Eat it all, finish the bowl. I'm ashamed to say that alot of times when I read a thriller, a week later, I can hardly remember what I've read. I read them so quickly, they just don't have time to create memories in my mind.

    I am happy to say that it was not so with The Likeness: A Novel by Tara French.

    Here is the requisite jacket blurb:

    Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still recovering. Transferred out of Dublin's Murder squad at her own request, she vows never to return. That is, until her boyfriend, Detective Sam O'Neill, calls her one beautiful spring morning, urgently asking her to come to a murder scene in the small town of Glenskehy.

    It isn't until Cassie sees the body that she understands Sam's insistence. The dead girl is Cassie's double, and she carries ID identifying her as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie herself used years ago when she worked undercover. The question becomes not only who killed this girl, but who was this girl?

    Frank Mackey, Cassie's former undercover boss, sees the opportunity of a lifetime. Having played Lexie Madison once before, Cassie is in the perfect position to take her place. The police will tell the media and Lexie's four housemates that the stab wound wasn't fatal. And Cassie will go on living Lexie's life until the killer is lured out to finish off the job.

    It's a brilliant idea, until Cassie finds herself more emotionally involved in Lexie's life than she anticipated. Sharing the ramshackle old Whitethorn House with Lexie's strange, tight-knit group of university friends, Cassie is slowly seduced by the victim's way of life, by the thought of working on a murder investigation again, and by the mystery of the victim herself. As Cassie nears the truth about what happened to Lexie Madison and who she really was, the lines between professional and personal, work and play, reality and fantasy become desperately tangled, and Cassie finds herself on the edge of losing herself forever.

    I think it was the setting of the story that really set this apart from just a plain old mystery to me. The housemates in this story share this lovely old home. They don't watch television or play on a computer, instead they spend their time fixing up the house, playing old-fashioned games and cards, talking, and reading. So, while I was keeping tabs on the mystery, I was also enjoying the lifestyle of the characters. Usually I read thrillers because I want to be caught up in the mystery and I read other books because I want to be caught up in the story and the characters, this book gave me both....more info
  • Exceptional
    Although I read and thoroughly enjoyed French's debut novel "Into the Woods", her sophomore effort is by far superior. It was truly an exceptional and thrilling read. The way French fleshes out Cassie Maddox, Lexie Madison and the four housemates is truly astonishing. I have always been fond of character-driven plotlines and novels, and French truly impressed me with "The Likeness". The amount of depth present in these characters - their motivations, relationships, and personalities - was both fascinating and engrossing. This was a book difficult to put down.

    To put it simply and sincerely: I loved "The Likeness" and would recommend any reader interested in a solid character-driven novel and thrilling mystery to buy this book.

    I look eagerly towards her next novel! Hopefully, the wait will not be long. ...more info
  • Pulls you in & won't let you go....
    Tana French has outdone herself with her second book. She combines her lyrical prose style with a gripping, well plotted murder mystery. I was so drawn into Whitethorn House & the denizens who lived there that I felt as if I were one of them. The characters & setting, & story are so gripping that for several days afterward I still felt as if I were living in the story. A totally absorbing book with a much more satisfying ending that her first novel. ...more info
  • Top of my list
    I loved every sentence. I think she is the best mystery writer in the business. Sorry John Sandford, but you've slipped to number two on my list....more info
  • Feckin' genius
    It's feckin' genius, that's what it is. I couldn't write a single sentence as well as Tana French if I started now and lived to be a thousand. And she wrote a whole book, two books, of them. Flawlessly. Word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, until the book is as perfect as it could be. It boggles the mind, it really does.

    The first time I picked up Raymond Chandler, I knew I was in the hands of something profound and mysterious. I haven't had that feeling again for many years, till In The Woods, and even more powerfully, The Likeness.

    Here's an Australian sheep rancher, talking about his daughter:

    "But when she was nine, her mother had hemmorhaged, ...and bled out before a doctor could get there. 'Gracie was too young to hear that,' he said. '...I knew as soon as I told her. The look in her eyes: she was too young to hear it. It cracked her straight across.'"

    "It cracked her straight across". That's the power of metaphor in the hands of a master. It conveys in a way that touches the heart what exactly happened, in the same way that Shakespeare would use metaphor and words.

    It's a privilege to read Tana French, it really is. I feel only pity for the person who wrote of the unbelievable plot, I do. This book isn't about a plot, just as Chandler wasn't about plot, just as we don't read Shakespeare for the plot. Anyone can do plot; but to give feeling and life, undoubted life, to characters on paper, that is to marvel at. ...more info
  • love love love!!
    The Likeness, Tana French's second mystery novel, is an incredibly creative and engaging story about Cassie, a supporting character in her first novel In The Woods. I highly recommend reading In the Woods before The Likeness, because knowing a little about Cassie before diving into this novel makes it that much better.

    Cassie, a former undercover agent is sent back into duty when a murder victim turns up who happens to look like her long lost identical twin. Cassie is put in a house with 4 of her best friends, and the suspense ensues.

    I loved every word of this novel, from the brilliant descriptions of the house, to the vividness of every single character. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a great mystery, and especially to those who loved In the Woods as much as I did. ...more info
  • Review
    Cassie Maddox is no longer with the Murder Squad. Cassie receives a phone call from her boyfriend, Sam to come down to Glenskehy to view a body. She can't help but wonder what's so important about the victim that Sam would call her? Once Cassie arrives in Glenskehy to her surprise and amazement the female victim looks exactly like Cassie. In fact the victim could very well pass as Cassie's twin. But that's not the most shocking thing. The id found on the victim says her name was Alexandra "Lexie" J. Madison. Cassie knows that name all too well. Years ago when Cassie worked undercover, she went by the name of Lexie Madison. Now Cassie is living the life of Lexie again. Someone she never thought she would ever have to be again.

    I was glad to see that Tana French's second book The Likeness featured Cassie Maddox this time. Readers got introduced to Cassie in Ms. French's first novel In the Woods. I thought that Cassie was a very strong character and am pleased to get to know her more. Just like In the Woods, Tana's writing style never faltered with The Likeness. If anything it got better. With two great books under her belt, Ms. French can be considered a knockout author to watch out for. I can't wait to see what Tana delivers to her readers next. I hope Tana French's next book brings back Ryan and Cassie. ...more info
  • Tana French's Second Novel Is Another Classic Mystery
    I was amazed during my reading of "In the Woods" on how Tana French, a new author who has no career in law enforcement, could write such a detailed police procedural that goes far beyond the ordinary & deep into the souls of every character. With her second release, "The Likeness", French proves this was no fluke.

    With a few of the same characters from her 1st novel, "The Likeness" takes Detective Cassie Maddox, formerly of the Irish Murder Squad and now working with Domestic Violence, into an undercover situation like no one has ever seen before. A young woman is found murdered who bears striking resemblence to Maddox. Beyond this - the victim is also using the name and College ID of a made-up student - Alexandra Madison. Alexandra Madison was actually the name created by Detective Maddox while she worked undercover a few years prior - an identity she longs to forget as the undercover assginment ended with her being stabbed by a College Drug Dealer.

    Cassie is approached by her former supervisor from the Undercover Squad, Frank Mackey, who proposes that she take advantage of the look-alike situation and step into the dead girls life. To accomplish this, Maddox and the Police must make it look like the dead girl actually survived the stabbing - a difficult assignment since the girl had 4 housemates, all of whom could have been the killer. As Cassie attempts to pull this off - after much schooling on the life and activities of Alexandra Madison - she risks her own life and career for a case that draws her deeper and deeper into the Lexie Madison persona - so deep that she may lose herself in the process.

    I cannot believe that a screenwriter for TV or Film has not come up with this premise before. It is brilliant and the tension never ceases. The book is nearly 500 pages long and I was enthralled from beginning to end. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who wants to escape the boring norm of typical police procedural/mysteries and read something so deeply layered it comes across as fine literature. All I can hope is that Tana French continues with these engaging characters as I eagerly await her third offering! ...more info
  • The whole book is based on an impossible
    first you have to put that aside. Really, really you have to ignore it.
    If you can do that, and I did, it becomes a truly interesting book.
    I loved the characters, and it actually made me wonder what it would be
    like if someone could really do what Cassie Maddox does in the book.
    I won't give it away, and I found it a great read, but as noted,
    yeah, its a stretch, no two ways about it. I would recommend it, tho,
    especially if you read her earlier book IN THE WOODS. There are references
    to the earlier book, and it may be frustrating to readers who have not
    read it. ...more info
  • Great read, go for it....
    Great book, beautiful prose. Sure, there's a lot of thrillers out there, but very few deliver the kind of prose that is delivered throughout the entire book. Lovely, with good narrative and unbelievable descriptive power that you'll find yourself reading sentences over again for their quality. There is something about the Irish and English writers right now that I find more appealing than some of the American counterparts. And Tana French really delivers here, as she did in The Woods, but I found the ending her first book rather disappointing, where this book feels complete and whole. Great, enjoyable read. ...more info
  • Amazing writer
    This was a wonderful follow up to In The Woods. She is such a beautiful writer-you can just get lost in the sentences. I did at some points feel the book could have been edited down a bit but most of the time I didn't want the book to end so I didn't care if it was somewhat drawn out. It's a great book to sink into and lose yourself for a while. ...more info
  • A Captivating Tale
    As others have noted, the premise of this story is both implausible and unoriginal. But really who cares when a book is as good as this. Ms. French has a deft hand with characterizations, a wonderful feel for dialog and a fantastic ability to move her plot along. Even if you do not particularly care for "who-done-its" or detective novels (I generally do not) you will love this book.

    The protagonist of this book is Cassie Maddox. Cassie is a detective who appears to be on a downward slide. She has lost her zest for living and her enthusiasm for her job. She is unwillingly pulled into a criminal investigation where she is asked to return to undercover work - impersonating her, heretofore unknown, double. The double, known as Lexie Madison, has been found in an abandoned cabin stabbed to death. Cassie has never laid eyes on the double before and has no idea who she is, but one thing she knows for sure, she is not Lexie Madison. Cassie knows this because "Lexie Madison" is Cassie's creation, an identity she created years ago when she was an undercover operator. So, who is the double? Why had she assumed this identity? Who murdered her? And most importantly, who exactly did the killer intend to kill? The journey to find out is as satisfying as the conclusion.

    A great read!...more info
  • Interesting sequel from In the Woods author
    Despite the farfetched premise of the story, it is well written and interesting. I wish the set-up wasn't quite so hokey but after I got around it I enjoyed the book, even though it is rather slow paced. Ms French has talent and her Irish settings are entertaining and colorful. I liked the description of the house and area in the story but found neither especially creepy which could have made it more of a thriller. ...more info
  • Separated by a Common Language
    Tana French is one of the many young Irish authors giving us crime addicts solid books to fill the gaps between Connelly, Leonard, Crais, Mosley, et. al. and help fill in for the loss of Evan Hunter. A friend sent me to and introduced me to Tana French, Colin Bateman, Declan Hughes, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Gene Kerrigan, Brian McGilloway, John Connolly, Arlene Hunt, Alex Barclay, and of course Declan Burke among others. French's second novel is terrific as the other reviews here make clear. I mean only to comment on how much I enjoy the "separated by a common language" moments in the text. "Skint," "banjaxed," "hunormous," "craptacular," and "invigilated" are now part of my vocabulary. Some of these words are actually in the dictionary. And McGilloway signed my copy of his latest - Gallows Lane (Inspector Devlin Mystery 2) - with the date "25/3/08." These authors are all welcomed over here for their talent, and the amazing local take off of French's The Likeness should accelerate all their works--a big plus for we Yanks....more info
  • See Yourself Dead!
    Imagine for a moment being confronted with a stabbed corpse that looks just like you! Horrific vision, for sure!

    Cassie Maddox has been transferred to Domestic Violence cases out of Murder because she was just so traumatized by her last two large investigations. Life's been dull but bearable compared to the harrowing intensity of seeking predators and killers with twisted minds and souls. But now, Cassie is challenged by her Frank, the brilliant detective and her former superior, to investigate this case that has traumatized her with its eerie likeness.

    This woman and Cassie have something in common - they both used the same name as an alias, Lexie Madison. Cassie used it for an undercover job known as Operation Vestal; now she's got to figure out why this dead woman used it and the real identity of this victim who was obviously killed elsewhere and then dragged into a small shack off the main roads of Glenskehy village, just outside of Dublin, Ireland.

    So Cassie, after much mental arm-and-brain-pulling by Frank, agrees to go undercover, enter Lexie's world of co-residents in a home they are renovating while they work in their respective Ph.D. fields. Cassie will again be Lexie Madison, a reality that haunts and disturbs every aspect of her thoughts and psyche, especially when she believes the murderer is one of her roommates!

    How much does this inherited house play into the questions behind the crime? How is the real Lexie Madison's background connected to the mystery? How far will Frank push Cassie in her undercover role while Sam, her lover, fight to keep her from becoming totally enmeshed in a very dangerous situation?

    Tana French crafts complex layers of a mystery/thriller with multiple diversions and seemingly innocuous conversations that brilliantly eventually all tie together, the reader never able to grasp the connecting threads until the very last page. This is one savvy writer to track, guaranteed to achieve success and popularity with her tales of intrigue and suspense riveting every reader and making them want more and more of the same with the uniquely different twists of each story. Just superb and a keeper!

    Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on July 12, 2008

    ...more info
  • The Must-Have Read for Summer
    It is safe to say that is the best book that I have read since completing French's "In the Woods" last summer.

    A thriller that picks up some time after where "In the Woods" left off, the story follows the mysterious murder of Detective Cassie Maddox's doppleganger.

    While the plot is sometimes totally incredulous, the quality of French's writing ropes the reader back in everytime reality threatens to destroy enjoyment of the novel. French strikes a tone that is intellectual (there are several long-winded monologues made by one of the characters Maddox encounters)- yet is at the same time accessible and easy to read. Something of a "The Secret History" style characters meets the cultural/class/society undertones of "Brideshead Revisited" makes this a totally engrossing read. Though the book reaches a much more concrete conclusion than that offered in French's previous offering, the novel still carries with it an air of mystery and unrest that is fascinating.

    While I have seen several reviews that have said the book is a tad bit long-winded, I was not bothered by the length- to the contrary, I actually very much enjoyed spending all the time possible with French's clever characters (particularly the group of students that Maddox finds herself embedded among).

    Am very much looking forward to Ms. French's next novel... ...more info
  • The Likeness
    The novel is fantastic !!!!! I could not put it down... Tana French is awesome !!!!!! ...more info
  • The Likeness - draws you into another world
    Tana French's second novel, "The Likeness" draws you into another world of the Anglo-Irish Big House, Trinity College Dublin, and a murder. Her descriptions of the places are evocative and make you feel that you're right in the middle of the action. I lived in the Dublin area for seven years and all of my memories of south County Dublin and County Wicklow came flooding back with her wonderful descriptions. The murder story unfolds slowly with many twists and possibilities, while creating an unforgettable atmosphere of tension and suspense. I can't say enough about Tana French's storytelling skill, and I won't say more about the story because that would spoil all of the suprises! Trust me - once you get into this book, it will be impossible to put down. Tana -- when is the next book coming? ...more info
  • too $
    can't wait to read when the price comes down to what Amazon promised Kindle prices would be...more info
  • Second is even better
    I thoroughly enjoyed "In the Woods" By Tana French but loved "The Likeness". It is written with a more personal feeling and there is a deeper commitment to the mystery of this story because of this. I believe that it is because the author puts more of herself into Cassie, the lead character in this book. There is no lack of solution to half of the mystery as there is for Robb in In the Woods. If you liked her first book you'll be overwhelmed by this one....more info
  • Stunning Character Portraits - You'll Not Forget Anyone!
    This second Tana French novel holds it's grip on you from page one through to the end. Each character is a masterful portrait of how complex a person can be. You may not love each character but you'll feel like you've know them all your life....more info
  • How does it compare to "In the Woods"? It's even better!
    This Dublin-based sequel to "In the Woods" fulfills French's earlier promise. She hones her protagonist, sharpens her style, and narrows her perspective. The result, in the final third, kept me up well past bedtime. For me, a sure sign of success.

    I liked it better than ITW. That novel, reviewed recently by me here, introduced Detective Cassie Maddox's former partner, Rob Ryan, as he told of their investigation. Characters and dialogue often proved intriguing, but the plot seemed too ambitious and its details too many. The sequel turns to Cassie's next major case, and turns on a premise even more daring than Rob's own predicament in ITW. Cassie must take on "the likeness" of Lexie Madison, who she resembles strongly, so as to find her killer.

    Both novels turn most eloquent when considering death. "But if you've seen a dead body, you know how they change the air; that huge silence, the absence strong as a black hole, time stopped and molecules frozen around the still thing that's learned the final secret, the one he can never tell. Most dead people are the only thing in the room. Murder victims are different; they don't come alone. The silence rises up to a deafening shout and the air is streaked and hand-printed, the body smokes with the brand of that other person grabbing you just as hard: the killer." (17)

    A bit later, Cassie describes her skill, and also alludes to her previous case that comprises ITW. "I had one, at least, of the things that make a great detective: the instinct for truth, the inner magnet whose pull tells you beyond any doubt what's dross, what's alloy and what's the pure, uncut metal. I dug out the nuggets without caring when they cut my fingers and brought them in my cupped hands to lay on graves, until I found out-- Operation Vestal again-- how slippery they were, how easily they crumbled, how deep they sliced and, in the end, how very little they were worth." (78-79)

    French's prose carries a forceful, yet often poetic, delivery. Read these passages aloud and you can recognize a personality behind Cassie's printed voice. Both Rob and Cassie emerge as full-fledged characters, and where "The Likeness" arguably betters ITW is French's concentration on a more restricted, Big House-Gothic type of setting that allows fewer figures to prowl about under her scrutiny as she seeks to solve Lexie's mystery.

    A "local yokel," interrogated, speaks convincingly as a rural Irish young man about what the Big House in question, Whitethorn, represents to villagers left out of the boom; an airheaded yuppie speculator, by contrast, sounds like a stoned sophomore off some MTV "reality show" about a college spring break. The continued homogenization of Ireland under the globalized media and inrushing capital gain their own eloquent critique from a resident of the Whitethorn that sets in motion the final third of the book that kept me reading past last midnight. French, as with ITW, places her detectives into an exurban Dublin that dispiritingly shows the loss of place, the destruction of heritage, and the long memories of what for the Irish it means to be dispossessed of both tradition and family, roots and comfort.

    While not without welcome bits of humor especially early on, it's a serious entry into a vanishing past under a SUV, executive-driven, and cluelessly profiteering present. Neither book revels in stereotype; religion and pubs, gregarious barflies and menacing priests are as absent as any sustained evocation of Dublin's charm or Wicklow's peace. The future of French's Ireland appears as desolate and cheapened as much of the rest of the "advanced" world. In it, as Rob learned, so does Cassie how desperate those who resist such "progress" may be twisted in their desire for escape....more info
  • Great read!
    I really enjoyed this book and have recommended it to several family members already, each of whom are just starting the book this week.

    So far we all agree: engrossing read.

    Hard to describe what prevents the fifth star without giving things away, but I look forward to more from this author!...more info
  • Sorry, but it's just beyond belief...unless you count it as "science fiction"
    Another reviewer indicated that the reader must feel that there is a grounded reality in the basic premise of a work of ilterature. In this case, it doesn't exist. Do you mean to tell me that someone who LOOKS just like a dead person can step into that person's life and expect the closest people to her not to notice? Hel-lo! And here's the kicker: the detective doesn't know that "Lexi," the pseudo-real-blah-blah-blah girl she is "impersonating" was American when she jumped into her life. So how in heck did she project the exactly-right voice inflection? This is the problem that most plagues the audio version: the reader is obviously as Oirish as they come (deliberate misspelling). The dead girl would not have been able to duplicate any other accent perfectly. I'm from Boston and can imitate a brogue almost to perfection, but not totally. It's just too silly to be believed, literally and figuratively. Too bad, because there's some good writing in between the you've-got-to-be-kidding plotline. Oh, darn. It's just a twisted ball of yarn you want to throw against the wall after a few chapters. I am still reading it only because I want to know who dunnit, but frankly, my dear, I almost don't give a damn. ...more info
  • Even Better Than The First
    The literary thriller is alive and well thanks again to Tana French. Changing first person focus, the narrator of her latest book is Cassie Maddox, whose former partner was the subject of French's first book, "In The Woods". Here Cassie is drawn into a murder investigation because of her startling resemblance to the victim. She goes undercover as the slain girl in an attempt to ferret out the killer or killers. French's writing elevates the genre beyond your run of the mill thriller. ...more info
  • left me thinking
    I am a new reader of Tana French. The Likeness gripped my attention; I could hardly wait to finish the book. I did not read In The Woods; just realized this is a sequel. I didn't feel I missed anything by reading The Likeness first; I got enough to understand there was a bad prior case and Rob was a main character in Cassie's life (no pasts, right?). I had one problem, though - why did Cassie so closely identify with the group at Whitethorn House and risk her career for that? Maybe I'll get it after I read In the Woods. I intend to start that soon. ...more info
  • too much overlap with The Secret History
    Although I enjoyed reading The Likeness, I was distracted by the many similarities between this book and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. While the plot is not the same, Daniel is practically the twin of Henry Winter in The Secret History (seems detached but loves deeply, wanders off into scholarly monologues, smokes unfiltered cigarettes, freakishly calm and calculating) and there are many, many phrases and descriptions that closely match those of Donna Tartt. I have read The Secret History upwards of 15 times and reading this book quickly became a search for the next Secret History allusion. It's a shame because Tana French is clearly a strong writer on her own but her influences drown out her individual voice in this book....more info
  • Avoids the Sophomore Slump
    A lot of sequels suffer from an inability to live up to their predecessors. The Likeness is not one of those sequels. I found it even more compelling and beautiful than In the Woods. Both novels are character-driven mysteries with strong psychological underpinnings. They both use murder cases to tell stories that are as much about the detectives as they are about the victims. And both novels are filled with beautiful language that transports the reader to a little town in Ireland.

    In The Likeness, intrepid girl detective Cassie Maddox returns and is faced with another baffling murder case. The weird twist in this novel is that Cassie has the unlikely luck of being identical to the murder victim and therefore able to go undercover as the victim. While this sounds like it could easily slip into a horrible story that's equal parts Weekend at Bernie's and The Parent Trap, French manages to work her magic once again. She uses the improbable -- a murder victim identical to a murder detective -- to tell a rich story about the mundane -- what makes people tick.

    I enjoyed The Likeness even more than In the Woods because the former offered me some closure at the end of the story, where the latter left me wondering where the last chapter had been misplaced. ...more info
  • Liking the Likeness
    Tana French may be my new favorite author. I recently finished "In the Woods" her first novel it was a great read. I found myself disappointed that "The Likeness" was over when I finished it. I felt like I knew the characters intimately and developed concern for their future. French does a supreme job in developing her characters. The unusual dynamic between the characters was only possible through French's ability to create them and their unique personalities. Cassie Maddox the detective goes undercover to find information on a murder. While the premise was not factually plausible it pulled me in. French's understanding of police procedure and ability to paint a picture of the Irish countryside made the plot interesting. French is not a formula writer like so many American authors. She is new interesting and has the ability to connect the reader to the characters for a great bit of storytelling. I wonder what her next book will be about and will our young Cassie Maddox come back, she always seems to....more info
  • Even Better Than Her First
    Read In The Woods First,Then The Likeness. They Are Both Outstanding. The Likeness Is Even Better.Well Written,Expertly Plotted Thriller....more info
  • Even better than the first...
    I was really disappointed after I read "In the Woods" and found out that Cassie, instead of Rob, would be the narrator in the next novel. As crazy as Rob was, I was left still wanting resolution. That being said, I LOVED "The Likeness". It took me more than half of the book to actually realize how crazy the "family" was due to the fact that I wanted to move into one of the spare bedrooms! I loved the character dynamic, and was very pleased how often Rob was still incorporated into the book in Cassie's way. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially recommend it if you have already read "In the Woods". ...more info
  • Rediculous
    I loved her first book, it was funny, sharp, sad, and believable enough. In a detective story, you can't ask more than that.
    This book, has no credibility. You, have to be willing to put disbelief aside. A reader should never have to do that, at least consiously. Unless.... I stand corrected. Fantasy, and Comic book readers might really enjoy this one.
    I give this book 2 stars, because, as much as I hate it, I could never write a book. Even one as bad as I think this is....more info
  • Left Me Wanting More... And Not in the Good Way

    I have to admit that I began this book with very high expectations. After reading Into the Woods, French's first, I found the prose so meaningful and immersive that I simply assumed that she would find an editor or some kind of mentor who would help with her story construction and fine tune a few of her characters. Unfortunately, she fixes a few problems to find a few others.

    The first star French lost right off the bat: this book is pure fiction. That is, to say, that it requires a suspension of disbelief which we all possess, to some degree, and use when we experience fictional work. Luke Skywalker didn't really live in a galaxy far, far away. We choose to leave our ultra-rational, sensical sides behind when we start reading or watching, and choose not to ask certain questions when faced with simple inconsistencies: "If he lived in a galaxy far, far away, how did we find out about it?"

    French chooses a premise for her second work which stretches that beyond measure. A woman who closely resembles the supporting character from Into the Woods, Cassie Maddox, is murdered and Cassie chooses to be put undercover as the woman, spinning a tale for her friends that she simply went into a coma and lost a lot of her memories about the stabbing. This is, of course, ludicrous. French tries to supplicate you by showing Maddox multiple films of her likeness in her daily life and having Cassie work super-hard at memorizing minor facts about the victim's life. It doesn't work: at the end of Act I, I still resoundingly found the idea of someone stepping into another's life and hoping no one would notice unbelievable.

    If, and that's a big "if", you choose to suspend your disbelief a little longer than I could, there is a reasonably good book underneath, which is quite enjoyable. Again, French shows her tremendous prowess in flowing passages about Cassie's anxiety and longing for the relationship the victim, "Lexie", had with her four roommates. It's very good, just like the last book.

    Unfortunately, French loses the second star due to another simple story construction problem which plagued her previously: tipping her hand at the wrong time. We immediately receive information about Lexie that's conflicting and provokes intrigue, and French does a great job of tittering the reader along as Cassie uncovers clues. Unfortunately, French establishes the "why" of the crime near the midpoint of the book, and finishes the climax with the "how". Why someone didn't stop her and say, "Hey, you've got a great story here. Why not combine the 'why' and the 'how' into the climax together?" It's a huge letdown when we find out who the killer is, but realize that we had known for some time what happened, sans details.

    Overall, another quality addition by French, but I just can't help thinking that there must be something better in her arsenal. I finished the book as quickly as I could after realizing that there was nothing else to find. The character "Daniel" is quite fascinating and French again does a great job penetrating the mind of Cassie for the reader, and she obviously has a very deep command of Cassie's persona. I look forward to her next adventure, hoping that it will be French's third book that really floors me.
    ...more info
  • so noir
    This book, especially in the beginning, is a film noir -- except it's a book not a film and the detective is a woman not a man (e.g., Philip Marlowe). Tell Tana to write another one! ...more info
  • Follow up novel disappointing
    Tana French's first novel, Into the Woods was so good I couldn't wait for this one. But it was a big disappoinment. Slow moving, impossible premise and uninteresting characters. Stick with her first novel for the good stuff! ...more info
  • A great listen, despite the ludicrous plotline
    I am a big fan of French's first book, In the Woods, and was surprised by the many negative reader reviews of it. I listened to both books, and like with her first novel, I didn't want to shut off my Zen after I started The Likeness, despite that fact that the audio version is 22 and a half hours long. It was a difficult story to pull off, given that the plot involves sending a policewoman who so closely resembles a murder victim that she can pose as her, moving in with the victim's close friends and roommates in order to figure out who killed her. That really does require a suspension of belief, but somehow I bought it. I am not a big fan of American female novelists, but the Brits seem better at developing characters and describing their interactions without ladeling on the treacle. I am a big fan of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Denise Mina, and Minette Walters and I think French is almost as good....more info
  • Six Stars!!
    Six stars for this one, maybe more. Wonderful flawless and original plot. Very nice writing style and juxtaposition of characters. Filled with interesting ideas and thoughts.
    ...more info
  • Well-crafted and Powerful Story

    "The Likeness" takes places six months after Tana French's first novel, "In the Woods". Detective Cassie Maddox has been through a lot of trauma and she wants nothing to do with murder cases and has transferred out of that unit. One day, a young woman is stabbed to death and Cassie is called in to help solve the murder. Things start to get creepy when it turns out that the girl looks exactly like Cassie and her ID mysteriously reads Lexie Madison, an alias that Cassie had used years earlier. By lying to those who knew the woman, a plan is hatched to have Cassie go undercover as Lexie and find out who killed her. Things become complicated when Cassie begins to develop genuine feelings for Lexie's roommates and gets too personally involved with the potential suspects.

    "The Likeness" drew me in right from the start and I became immersed in Cassie's world of deception, danger and drama. While I usually appreciate an author's vivid descriptions of his or her characters, Tana French outdoes herself by painting such elaborate portraits of each character, along with their nuances, quirks and thought patterns. I could easily envision the tight-knit group of friends and Cassie slowly letting her guard down and becoming close to them. Most mystery books tend to focus a great deal on the plot but this one builds up momentum slowly and French never neglects the characters' development.

    I don't know if this book will be made into a movie, but I can easily envision it all on screen perfectly. I found myself becoming really attached to the characters, especially to Cassie, and I was really sad when the book finished. I hope there will be more books about Detective Cassie in the future! ...more info
  • Wow, Great Page Turner!
    I liked the first book Into The Woods. Loved the follow up The Likeness. The writer puts you in a small town in Ireland. Really interesting characters, you will want to live in "the house". You can read other reviews about the story i just wanted to give it a rave "cant put it down" review. This book entertains....more info
  • Languid
    When I read an undercover detective story, I assume that there will be tense moments sprinkled throughout the book. After noting several missed opportunities in the first 100 pages, I adjusted my expectations and continued on, thinking instead that I could fill up on the rich descriptions, such as those that easily made me visualize the Whitehorn House and its inhabitants.

    The problem is that this descriptiveness extended very little to the story itself. For example, "No Pasts" means we know little about the character's backgrounds. We never learn what the "huge, complicated, vicious fight" was that Cassie had with her former partner and best friend Rob, even though he pops into her mind any number of times during the story. At the end, the father of Lexie's baby is identified but we're told nothing of that relationship. We're left wondering how Lexie actually received the stab wound that led to her death.

    The story's shortcomings, however, are deeper than just individual examples. There isn't one chapter where I honestly felt as though Cassie was in danger - except for some slight anxiety in the final pages. In fact, it's almost as though Cassie, who had experience in undercover murder investigations, was intimidated by the younger graduate students who generally behave as though they're freshmen in college.

    "The Likeness" lacks that foreboding feeling of "Uh, oh, things are about to really blow up." And that's too bad because I had no problem, like some readers, accepting the premise that Cassie was investigating the death of someone who looked just like her. All of the ingredients to develop a unique storyline - having Cassie live with the deceased's roommates to flush out a murderer -- were there. Instead, the story wandered. Conversations go on and on, seemingly irrelevant at times, repeating in different words what was written two pages earlier. A more tightly-written book where the author better displayed how actual detective investigations worked, with their feints and edgy back-and-forth querying, would have added much-needed suspense.
    ...more info
  • I didn't want it to end...
    Even better than "In the Woods". I can't wait for her next book. Tana French will always have a spot on my bookshelves! ...more info
  • One of the best mysteries of the year.
    The writing is superb, and I love the characters. I really enjoyed In the Woods too, and will be watching for her next book....more info
  • "Innocence isn't enough."

    It is always exciting to discover a brilliant new talent. In her second thriller, The Likeness, Irish writer Tana French spins an elaborate tale that is bound to the roots of Irish history and the unique world of law enforcement as depicted by detectives Cassie Maddox, Frank Mackey and Sam O'Neill. Cassie and Sam are nurturing a quiet relationship that began soon after Cassie left the Murder Squad after a particularly grueling case. Now she is ensconced in Domestic Violence, certainly less dangerous than the Murder Squad or her former undercover case with Mackey. Suddenly the past collides with the present when Sam calls Cassie to come to a crime scene, the panic in his voice palpable. A body lays dead in a rural area outside Dublin in a dilapidated famine shack, a young woman who is the exact image of Detective Maddox , her doppelganger. The unpredictable Detective Mackey immediately hatches a plot with O'Neill's reluctant approval, but the decision will be Cassie's: return to Alexandra Madison's life after the police announce Lexie's recovery from her stab wound.

    French isn't content with this imaginative plot, adding yet another twist to the tale: the murdered young woman has co-opted every detail of Cassie's former undercover identity. Reeling from the implications of their mutual past, Cassie becomes Lexie, determined to discover the motivation for the girl's secrecy and the event that has led to Lexie's fatal stabbing in a remote shack. There is some indication of the many nuances at play as Mackey drills the minutiae of Lexie's existence into Cassie's memory. A grad student in Dublin, Lexie lives with four other grad students in a rambling estate, Whitethorn House, inherited by one of the group, Daniel March. Gradually restoring the home during quiet evenings at home, Daniel, Lexie, Justin, Rafe and Abby form a complex unit, a "family" that shares decisions, finances and an intense emotional bond to one another. Careful to maintain her cover, Cassie steps into the rarified world of Whitethorn House, a waiting minefield, the detective unsure how her housemates will respond.

    Blindsided by the harmonious relationships of the group, Cassie is seduced by an opportunity for closeness she has never experienced, caught between her dedication to her work and an increasing fascination with the others, the quiet, enigmatic Daniel, mercurial Rafe, insecure and troubled Justin and brilliant Abby. But for all her romantic notions of a sheltered domestic environment, real life eventually intrudes. Whether from within the house or the unfriendly village with an old grudge against the Marches, there is a murderer at large. As complex as Cassie's ties to her "new" friends are the undercurrents of tension between O'Neill and Mackey, Frank a master of manipulation in pursuit of a goal. Dense and rich, French's prose is evocative of time, place and history, her conflicted protagonist faced with a shattering decision, whether to embrace a new life or return to the old, a life forever changed by Lexie's sad fate, "the multiple innocences that make up guilt." Luan Gaines/2008.

    ...more info
  • Enjoyable mystery, fluid writing, but iffy as a detective story
    It is the writing style that made this novel work for me. As a mystery it is enjoyable. The events unfold logically and at about the right pace to remain interesting and not frustrating. The characters ring fairly true and the writing moves quickly.

    My only problem with this novel was that the actions of the police are just a bit too much of a stretch. I can accept the undercover operation. It would never happen in real life, but I understand that you have to accept it to allow the book to examine the nature of identity. The problem I had was that the behavior of the police was not internally consistent with that theme.

    Still, I think the quality of the writing makes up for it and I think Tana French is a skilled writer. I will continue to look for her work. I hope she continues to develop as a writer.

    Incidentally, I didn't read In The Woods, her earlier book that employed the same characters. Some references are made to events in that book but I didn't feel it was necessary to read that book to understand this one....more info
  • Gorgeous writing, flimsy plot
    Likeness is one of those off-kilter books that you love to read because the prose is stunning, but which fails completely as a novel. In order for French's plot to work you have to believe: 1)that an undercover cop could pass herself off as another person to a group of people who knew her "double" intimately, 2)that a person can go from being a hat designer to a PhD student in one year (transcripts? application process? recommendations?),3) that grad school students act like 15-year-olds (well, OK maybe that's not so far off the mark),4) that a trained undercover cop would keep important evidence (the diary) from her superiors, etc. etc. etc. I simply did not buy any of it. There were problems with the writing as well. I found the trendy post-modern "quotes" (Star Trek, Alice's Restaurant) disruptive. And those endless ambiguous, interrupted conversations hinting at dark secrets got old after a while. I wanted some resolution. Even the relationships between the characters were unconvincing. Was Cassie actually supposed to be in love with Sam? Why did Cassie want to be Lexi? Why did the villagers care so deeply about a woman who had died almost a hundred years earlier? In short, the premise was implausible, the book was over-written, and the psychology shaky.
    French is a fabulous writer. I'm hoping that her third novel will be a charm. ...more info
  • Boycott Kindle
    I'm livid! When I was one of the first Kindle purchasers, I was assured that no downloads would cost more than $9.99. Now that they have sold thousands of their machines, they go back on their words and start to raise their prices. I'm TIRED of being taken advantage of. From this point on, I will no longer download, or buy ANYTHING from Amazon. I made a verbal complaint, and was totally blown off. If thousands of us call them on this deception and boycott them, maybe we can force them to honor their commitments. How about it?...more info