Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Likeness

The Likeness by Tana French
Trade Paperback, 466 pages
Penguin, 2008
Synopsis from cover:
Six months after a particularly nasty case, Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred out of Dublin's Murder squad and has no plans to go back. That is, until an urgent telephone call summons her to a grisly crime scene.
It's only when she sees the body that Cassie understands the hurry. The victim, a young woman, is Cassie's double and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used on an undercover job. Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl but, more importantly, who is this girl? And as reality and fantasy become desperately tangled, Cassie moves dangerously close to losing herself forever.
My Thoughts:

While French is an excellent writer there were just too many implausible things happening in The Likeness that you had to accept in order to make the novel work. The biggest and first unconvincing event being that an undercover officer not only looks like a murder victim, but looks like her enough that she can actually pass as her while with a group of intimate friends who all live together. It would be different if she was trying to pass as the victim among acquaintances. As the novel continues there are other occurrences that also simply defy belief. If you can overlook all the unbelievable elements and plod through the slow parts, The Likeness is suspenseful. The ending is certainly more satisfying than In the Woods. I'm torn on this one. I enjoyed it, but while reading it I kept thinking the premise was too improbable.
Highly recommended - if you can overlook the implausible


Some nights, if I'm sleeping on my own, I still dream about Whitethorn House. In the dream it's always spring, cool fine light with a late-afternoon haze. opening

This is Lexie Madison's story, not mine. I'd love to tell you one without getting into the other, but it doesn't work that way. I used to think I sewed us together at the edges with my own hands, pulled the stitches tight and I could unpick them any time I wanted. Now I think it always ran deeper than that and farther underground; out of sight and way beyond my control. pg. 3

In every way that mattered, we lost and we lost big. Some people are little Chernobyls, shimmering with silent, spreading poison: get anywhere near them and every breath you take will wreck you from the inside out. Some cases - ask any cop - are malignant and incurable, devouring everything they touch. pg. 9

For a second I was confused - Sam lied? - because I knew her from somewhere. I'd seen that face a million times before. Then I took a step forwards, so I could get a proper look and the whole world went silent, frozen, darkness roaring in from the edges and only the girl's face blazing white at the center; because it was me. pg. 18

"We've got the chance," he said, taking his time, "we've got the chance to place an experienced undercover officer smack in the middle of a murder victim's life." pg. 25

I found out early that you can throw yourself away, missing what you've lost. pg. 34

Students and very young people can rent with no damage to their intellectual freedom, because it puts them under no threat: they have nothing, yet, to lose.... It's because they're here so lightly: they haven't yet accumulated loves and responsibilities and commitments and all the things that tie us securely to this world.... But as you get older, you begin to find things that are worth holding onto, forever. All of a sudden you're playing for keeps, as children say, and it changes the very fabric of you. pg. 339

No comments: