After thoroughly enjoying In the Woods as much as I did, I decided not to let that enjoyment subside before going right out and getting Tana French’s second Dublin Murder Squad book from the library. And, as I hoped, I enjoyed The Likeness every bit as much as I did the previous book — perhaps more.
The Likeness has a wild premise, one of the cleverest I’ve come across in a detective novel. It’s also wildly implausible, but the fact that everyone involved knows the situation is ridiculous allowed me to get past it. Basically, Cassie Maddox is brought into a murder case in which she has an uncanny resemblance to the victim, Lexie Madison. Not only that, Lexie Madison is a false identity that Cassie herself created years ago, when she was an undercover officer.
The murdered Lexie was a post-graduate at Trinity, and she lived with four other students in an old house that one of them, Daniel, inherited. Now, the five of them have formed an unconventional family, living and working together and fixing up the house. Cassie’s former supervisor from the undercover unit, Frank, convinces Sam, the murder detective on the case (and Cassie’s boyfriend), that they should tell the four housemates that Lexie was wounded and is in a coma. If the case isn’t solved right away, Cassie can join the household, in the guise of a newly recovered Lexie. And, of course, that’s exactly what happens. Cassie pretends to be a murder victim to find out who the killer is.
This book, much like In the Woods, relies on the detective making ridiculous mistakes from the get-go. Rob didn’t reveal his possible connection to the murder in In the Woods, and Cassie doesn’t share some essential clues she finds almost immediately. Although I found the lapse in judgment extremely frustrating and kept yelling at Cassie in my head, I wasn’t turned off by it. In fact, I liked how the story wasn’t just about solving a murder mystery but about exploring the detective’s own psyche. The two storylines work together hand in hand, just as in the last book. I wanted to understand what Cassie was going through, and I wanted to see how the mystery would play out. The book is a little longer than it needed to be, perhaps, but I enjoyed being immersed in this strange situation and wanted to continue spending time there. Not unlike Cassie herself.