Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The Likeness by Tana French

Hachette Books Ireland

PROPERTY and identity: the two main reasons for murder.
Many the soon-to-be widower screams “You’re not who I thought you were” as he grabs up the knife.
And the division of the home and the savings is eased by about-to-be widows who kill to inherit all rather than half.
In Tana French’s second novel, it’s more complicated.
Detective Cassie Maddox – one of the central characters in French’s first book, the magnificent In the Woods – discovers that she’s a victim of identity theft.
Or rather that ‘Lexie Madison’, a fake persona Cassie was using when working undercover, is now the identity being used by another woman.
And that woman has been found dead in a ruined cottage in the wilds of Wicklow.
Spookily, she’s been stabbed, just as Cassie was stabbed by a speed freak when she was using the ‘Lexie’ identity to work undercover.
Cassie is sent in to take the dead woman’s place – she didn’t really die, they tell friends of ‘Lexie’, she was in a coma.
She finds herself in a complex household, almost a commune, shared by students in a stunning half-ruined Georgian house in the mountains that one has inherited.
The Likeness has a bit of the second book syndrome about it. It’s draggy at times, with slow narration and not enough happening.
But a writer with French’s power can still bring the reader along, with scary details and mystery within mystery.
As Cassie becomes ‘Lexie’ and her involvement with Lexie’s friends grows, she’s living two lives. In one, she’s a detective acquiring inside knowledge – ‘Lexie’ was pregnant – and in the other she’s living with Lexie’s friends, not knowing who may be the killer.
Fascinating and terrifying; don’t put the lights out after closing this.

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