Friday, January 22, 2021

Book Review 2020 #3 - Tana French's The Likeness

The Likeness by Tana French
Published by: Penguin Books
Publication Date: July 17th, 2008
Format: Paperback, 496 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Detective Cassie Maddox has left the Murder squad. It became too fraught and messy. Instead she's simplifying her life, she's dating Sam O’Neill and has transferred to Domestic Violence. Everything is falling into a nice new routine, until her old life comes back to haunt her. Before Murder Cassie was undercover as a University of Dublin student called Lexie Madison. The way that ended is actually how she got her gig in Murder. But Lexie is unexpectedly about to return. Sam has been called to a crime scene and he contacts Cassie freaking out, because despite talking to her on the phone he is convinced he is looking at her dead body. Cassie's doppelganger is found dead outside the town of Glenskehy. What's more, her ID says she's Lexie Madison. This girl, whomever she was, used the fake Lexie identity to slip into a new life at Trinity and was getting a PhD in English ironically writing about women who wrote under other identities. She was living at Whitethorn House in Glenskehy with four of her classmates in some idealized literary commune where they spent their spare time fixing up the house and avoiding the locals. This is an unprecedented opportunity. The police can have "Lexie" make a remarkable recovery and send Cassie into Lexie's life. Her killer is either a local or in the house! Which means there are four prime suspects, Daniel March, inanimate object as narrator in early medieval epic poetry, Justin Mannering, sacred and profane love in Renaissance literature, Rafe Hyland, the malcontent in Jacobean drama, and Abby Stone, the social class in Victorian literature. Cassie just has to be this "new" Lexie, get in and get out. The only problem is, once there, it's so nice leaving her own messy life behind that maybe she'd rather stay with these four people who like to live out of time.

After reading the first Dublin Murder Squad book I wrote off Tana French. There are too many books and authors out there I just had to go with my initial impression. This was what everyone was raving about? I was mystified. This wasn't a clever mystery with an unreliable narrator, it was a straightforward mystery with an asshole narrator. Therefore I dove into the STARZ adaptation thinking perhaps they could improve upon the source material. And during the opening credits is when I learned the show was based on the first two books in the series... and the OCD completest in me made me stop the show and pick up The Likeness. I know what I had said, but the OCD took over. So right here I would like to thank Dublin Murders, that perfectly cast, horrifically adapted, surprisingly not yet cancelled series for making me pick up The Likeness, as perfect a book as In the Woods was imperfect. It's rare for me to say I never want a book to end, but I never wanted this book to end. I wanted to move into the pages, I wanted to become a member of that Whitethorn House literary cabal. I wanted to spend nights with Abby making historically accurate clothes for creepy dolls found in the house. I wanted to be a part of something but apart from reality. I wanted this life Cassie was inhabiting almost more than Cassie herself wanted it. This book was just filled with literary goodness, especially Brideshead Revisited references! Oh how I want to go back, oh how I want to live in this book. It's just gorgeous and Gothic and timeless and timely and perfection.


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