The Likeness by Tana French

Title:  The Likeness
Author:  Tana French
Publisher:  Viking Adult
Published date:  July 17, 2008
Pages:  480
Genres:  Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Source:  Personal copy

So, you all remember how much I loved In the Woods, also by Ms. Tana French, right?  Obviously after enjoying her first book so much I was compelled to pick up this, French’s second novel, right away.  And did it satisfy?  You bet it did!

Why don’t I tell you a little about the plot… the book is told from the perspective of Detective Cassie Maddox, former partner of Detective Rob Ryan from In the Woods.  Well, after all of the craziness from the events in the first book, Cassie is trying to lay low by transferring out of the murder squad and into the domestic violence department.  One day she gets a call from her boyfriend Sam (who is also a detective, also from the first book), who has discovered a dead body of a woman who looks completely identical to Cassie.  Not only that, but her ID carries the fake name that Cassie used years back on an undercover case she did at the local college, Lexie Madison.  So what does Cassie do?  She goes undercover, posing as Lexie, starts living in Lexie’s house, with her friends, going to her classes, all in the hopes of solving her murder.

The Likeness is even better than In the Woods.  I honestly wasn’t sure that was possible, and I would still say that I love the first book.  But I have to say that this one grabbed me just a teensy bit more.  I think the main reason for that is the fact that Cassie is a far more sympathetic character than Rob Ryan was.  She didn’t make nearly as many stupid decisions, she was believable, and I truly liked her and, though her, Lexie.  The other characters were extremely real to me as well.  I felt like I was living in their cozy house with them, that’s how authentic they felt to me.  Although they all had some major issues, and I was suspicious of all of them at different points throughout the story, I truly got a sense that they loved Lexie and each other.  They were just such darn great characters!

The mystery in The Likeness is extremely well crafted.  There were seriously so many twists and turns in this novel, I never had any kind of grasp on what was really going on.  Just when things were starting to seem clear, something else would happen that would cause me to question everything I thought I knew about Lexie and her four best friends.  It was such a crazy and exciting ride and I loved every second of it.  And although the ending wasn’t at all surprising (meaning that it made sense given the rest of the book), it wasn’t what I was expecting – which I of course loved.

The last thing I will say about The Likeness is that Tana French is still one of the best writers I’ve read recently.  She just has a way with language, with making the most ordinary conversation stand out.  The book is both lengthy and wordy, but I didn’t notice those aspects while reading it because of how perfectly put together the entire thing is.  From the plot, to the characters, to the mystery itself, to the wonderful writing – The Likeness is truly a remarkable book.  And I will go out on a limb and say that I think this is a MUST read for mystery lovers. 🙂  It truly is that awesome!

Here are some more reviews of The Likeness.

20 thoughts on “The Likeness by Tana French”

  1. I know I’ve got one of these books, but I’m not sure which one because it’s not showing up in my spreadsheet. So glad to see they’re good! I can see from your review that I need to read them in order, though.

    1. Definitely, definitely read them in order. I suppose it’s not completely necessary, you won’t be lost if you read the second one first. But in terms of character development, I think it really helps to read In the Woods first. And The Likeness has spoilers for In the Woods, so there’s that reason too!

  2. I’ve got In the Woods on my wish list, so I skipped the review after you said you loved it. I wish I read faster so that I could get to all the books I want too!

  3. I’m late to the lovefest, but oh, I really enjoyed this book. I also really liked Into the Woods, but like you, I thought The Likeness was even better. I think Tana French does such a good job carefully creating her characters, and she manages the suspense very well. I can’t wait for her next book.

    1. I totally agree about the suspense and the characters. I just LOVE her characters so much. I too am extremely excited for her to put out another book! I really hope she keeps at least one of the characters from the first two – I’d love to see another book about what’s been happening with Rob Ryan.

  4. I’ve heard so many great things about Tana French, but was convinced that the books would be too “scary” for me! I like mysteries, but I can’t deal with gore at all. It doesn’t sound like these are that messy, though — or are they? I’m intrigued!

  5. I preferred Into The Woods! Loved it in fact. I just didn’t understand why some people just didn’t get it. You don’t need to know everything in the end. In the Likeness, I missed the other character Rob Ryan…I hope French will write another book soon with the same characters. Though I liked it less, the Likeness is still a good read.

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