Just finished The Likeness, and Edgar Award winner Tana French’s second novel is as good or even better than In the Woods, a book that won many mystery awards. Cassie Maddox from In the Woods is at the center of this novel, which is written from a totally different point of view.
It’s said that everyone has a doppelganger, a double, but when a woman is discovered stabbed in a cottage, she not only looks like Cassie, but she is identified as Lexie Madison, an undercover alias created for Cassie a few years before. Although this may sound a bit far-fetched, French treats it so well that it’s the irony of the situation that draws you into the book. Cassie goes undercover again to discover who murdered ‘Lexie Madison’ and who was Lexie Madison. Her discovery is as much about herself as it is about the victim.
This novel is both character driven and plot driven. French does a great job of delineating the four graduate student housemates with their interrelationships, distinct personalities and motivations. The house where these students live is also a character, and the house defines them. Even if you get lost in their idylls, you're back up front and close to center with Cassie, as she searches for the killer of Lexie, who made up the fifth of this ‘merry’ band.
I learned a lot about undercover skills that are integrated, defined and revealed in this book.
The whole plot revolves around the theme of ‘likeness’-- who's who and who you really.
French’s writing style is dense and descriptive. The Likeness is a long book, but one I couldn’t put down. I highly recommend this exceptional mystery.