Review of “The Likeness” by Tana French

In The Likeness, French continues the story of Detective Cassie Maddox, who was introduced to readers in In The Woods. Although this book can easily stand alone, I think it will be a richer reading experience if you already know Cassie from the previous book.

Cassie is called by Frank Mackey, her former boss in police undercover work, to come back on his staff temporarily to find out what happened to Lexie Madison, a young woman found dead in the Wicklow area of Ireland. There’s a very good reason Frank calls Cassie: Lexie Madison is Cassie’s old undercover name, and the murder victim looks remarkably like her.

Frank decides to use this likeness to search for the murderer of “Lexie” by claiming Lexie was resuscitated, and sending Cassie back into the [fake] Lexie’s [fake] life. It’s a dangerous game, but Cassie, like “Lexie,” is fearless. She has to be absolutely convincing to the four postgrad students with whom Lexie had been living – Daniel, Abby, Justin, and Rafe, as well as to other acquaintances, and most especially, the murderer. The only question is, will Cassie end up like Lexie did as well?

Evaluation: Tana French is an excellent, intelligent writer. In this book, I didn’t quite buy the premise that the two women looked enough alike that none of Lexie’s roommates – who live like a family – would know the difference. If, however, you take it on faith and go with the plotline, it’s a tense, page-turning story with some terrific character development.

Rating: 3.8/5

Published by Viking, 2008

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22 Responses to Review of “The Likeness” by Tana French

  1. I recently won the In the Woods and look forward to the entire series (at some point). Thanks for the great review.

  2. I loved both books but I was much MORE in love with In the Woods.

  3. Sandy says:

    This was my first French read, and I fell completely under her spell (audio was amazing). You are right, I kept wondering how on earth she could pull this off. She couldn’t look THAT much like the dead girl. But still, the premise is terrifying and seductive. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. zibilee says:

    Glad to hear that you liked this second installment as well! I am going to be reading these, I promise!

  5. Amanda says:

    Does it live up to the first one? Or is the first one better as many first books often are?

  6. bermudaonion says:

    I think I would have trouble with that story line as well. Even if they looked alike, if you knew them at all, you could tell them apart.

  7. Steph says:

    I kept waiting for a big reveal about how the two girls could look so alike and even though there wasn’t really an explanation apart from “everyone has a doppelganger!”, I oddly didn’t feel let down by it all. Although it is a mundane account, I suppose it’s the most likely explanation.

  8. marthalama says:

    I know everyone has been loving Tara French and for some reason I haven’t been all that interested. But I think I’m really going to have to give her a try.

  9. Margaret says:

    A very perceptive post, rhapsodyinbooks. I didn’t have any problem with the “doppelganger” construct because there HAVE to be several people, in all billions on earth, who look exactly like us, enough to fool our own mothers. Also, I think we tend to see what we expect to see, and Lexy’s roommates had no reason to suspect a substitution. They knew she’d been through a major physical crisis, and would expect her to look a little different. So, I bought it. What a great mystery! I’m looking forward very much to In The Woods.

  10. Julie P. says:

    I guess sometimes you just have to suspend belief! Great review.

  11. Lisa says:

    I’ve had “Into The Woods” sitting on Mt. TBR for so long. I really must get to it in the coming year – and then this one and then the next one!

  12. Melody says:

    Tana French is one of my favourite authors! I will read anything written by her! 🙂

  13. Staci says:

    When and (if) I ever get to this one I’ll remember to suspend all belief about the look-alikes!! 😀

  14. That suspension of disbelief can be tricky sometimes!

    I haven’t read anything by Tana French … yet!

  15. Jenny says:

    Everyone does have a doppelganger, but I’ve never seen one that looked so utterly uncannily like someone else I know that I’d mistake them for the original person.

  16. I’m with you on this one. It would bug me throughout the book to keep thinking about the roommates not catching on to her.

  17. Doret says:

    I loved In the Woods, I thought this second book, was good as well, but the first one was better.

    The most recent “Faithful Place” didn’t work for me.

  18. softdrink says:

    So what’s the difference between a 3.8 and a 3.9?

    And, are you going to read the next one? Do you ever give up on a series?

    • There are subtle differences that establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that 3.8 is one-tenth less as good as 3.9.

      And what? ME, give up on a series, are you kidding?!!!

  19. I own In The Woods and The Likeness and have read neither. I must…soon.
    Although I can see the issue with the likeness of The Likeness. We will see.

  20. I loved this book and while I agree with you that it is not realistic that the two girls looked so much alike that no one could decipher the difference, I still thought that it was an intriguing premise.

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