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The Likeness
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on December 16, 2016
This book started out as maybe a two-star read if I were feeling generous, but as I kept turning the pages, it kept moving up the scale and, by the time I reached the denouement, I was finding it hard to put it down even for a minute or two.

My first problem with the book was that its premise is just so unbelievable. It strays from the thriller concept straight into the fantastical world of science fiction.

But as I got further and further into the plot, that ceased to bother me. The characters were so interesting that they moved the story along and built suspense until it finally reached the breaking point.

That unbelievable premise, briefly, is this: Cassie Maddox, one of the detectives on the Dublin Murder Squad that we met in Into the Woods, has now moved on to Domestic Violence after the debacle of the Woods case. Her beloved but now estranged partner, Rob Ryan, was moved into a desk job.

Even before she worked on the Murder Squad, Cassie had worked in the Undercover division. While there, she and her boss has created a persona for her called Alexandra (Lexie) Madison and she had worked undercover using that name.

Now, Cassie is called to the scene of a murder in the countryside outside of Dublin where she finds Detective Sam O'Neill, another of her former colleagues on the Murder Squad and now her lover, and Frank Mackey from Undercover, the person who created Lexie Madison all those years ago.

When Cassie is shown the dead body, she is shocked to see a woman who looks very much like her. The murder victim's name, according to her ID, is Alexandra (Lexie) Madison.

It develops that this Lexie Madison was a Ph.D. candidate at the local university and she lived in a house in the countryside, near where she died, with four other Ph.D. candidates. She had lived with them for four years and they were all close friends, functioning very much as a family.

Now Lexie is dead and the police have no clues as to the identity of her murderer.

But Cassie looks SO much like Lexie that Frank Mackey, the undercover guy who has a streak of sadism, says why don't we keep her death a secret - just say she was injured - and then put Cassie in her place to play Lexie once again and flush out the murderer?

And Cassie agrees to this!

And all the four friends back at the big house, the friends who have known her for four years and know all of her quirks and habits accept her! They believe she is Lexie!

Can you see why a reader might have a problem with this?

This is a very strange and self-contained group of people who live in a very strange house and provide all of each other's needs for love and friendship and family. The group is not liked or accepted by their neighbors in the village. In fact, they are actively hated and are the victims of vandalism, graffiti, and intimidation. It's very much an us-against-them situation.

Their group provides a feeling of belonging for these outsiders and outcasts. Even Cassie/Lexie finds herself seduced by the warmth of the group. There's nothing that really transcends that feeling, and as the story progresses, we see that that is what it is really about: Paradise found and, eventually, paradise lost.

Tana French builds her story and the tension slowly and, up until late in the book, I was still very much in a quandary as to who killed Lexie. And, maybe even more importantly, who was Lexie?

In the end, all - well, most anyway - is revealed and we are left wondering what Tana French is going to titillate us with next.
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on June 30, 2016
This is my 2nd book I've ready by Tana French. I started reading her because we were traveling to Ireland and I wanted to read a contemporary Irish author who may give me some flavor of Irish folks, language etc. This did that, for sure. Very interesting story. My main complaint is that she is oftentimes too detailed; it takes a very longtime to get to the key point, and while that may not be a good reason to critique an author, I found the same problem reading her other piece of fiction. Nonetheless, I would recommend it because of the story itself.
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on February 25, 2015
Tana French is a wonderful, thoughtful writer. The set-up for this novel is tremendous, but it needed to be vetted for believability. I think with more attention to the plot, especially as to how to make it make more sense, this could have been an excellent mystery. Even as it is, if you suspend your disbelief it make a fine story. Tana French spends a lot of effort exploring the in working of the minds of her characters, sometimes this gets tedious. The book takes too long to get started and far too long wrapping-up things after the plot concludes
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on September 1, 2015
Every once in a while a special book comes along that reminds me why I love to read. This is one of those books!

This psychological thriller takes place in Dublin, Ireland. A young woman named Lexie Madison is found dead with a stab wound in her chest. A cop named Cassie Maddox is brought in on the case because she happens to look just like the murder victim. Police float the story that Lexie's wound was not fatal and she's recovering in a hospital. Cassie (posing as Lexie) infiltrates the shabby-but-once-elegant mansion that Lexie had been living in with four other grad students, in order to flush out the murderer. The housemates were an unusually close group. How can Cassie pull this deception off long enough to solve the case? Who killed Lexie and why?

That's how the book begins, and in spite of the many incongruities in the plot, I didn't want to put it down. The character development and the scene descriptions were so well done, I imagined myself there. I WAS there. And when the book ended, I hated to leave.
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on June 1, 2017
Did you ever get to the point in reading a book where your mind starts to say, "C'mon ,already, get on with it." Starting with a premise that strains credulity and plunging deeper into a morass of mind-straining events, "The Likeness" creeps on for nearly 500 pages and somewhere, after 300 of them, you find yourself longing for a wrapping up of the whole enterprise. Too many words, not enough action.
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on August 28, 2016
A good continuation of the series but not as compelling as the first book, "In the Woods." I like the change of perspective to the viewpoint of Cassie Maddox, the partner of the narrator of the first book. It was interesting to see the world through the eyes of someone who was a character in the first book and hear some of those events referred to in her voice. The main mystery was interesting but there were quite a few unanswered questions at the end and I found myself frequently questioning Cassie's decisions and actions. They just didn't make sense to me in the context of what happened in the first book. That said, I like this series and am looking forward to the next one and it's new narrator.
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on July 18, 2017
I've read two novels by Tana French (her first two in the Murder team series) and have found them much too long to recommend them as must reads. They are good but I 'm not sure worth the time involved due to the extraneous material that serves no purpose other than to increase the length of the book.
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on May 21, 2014
(3.5 stars) The second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series focuses on Cassie Maddox. Cassie is broken by the events in the first book and has transferred out of homicide to the domestic violence unit. She is secretly dating detective Sam O'Neill, but has lost her sense of self and purpose. She is brought in on a murder case due to a startling coincidence; the victim is a virtual twin for Cassie and her ID shows her as an identity Cassie used as an undercover operative. Lexie, the victim stole this identity and has used it to become a graduate student in English. Cassie is convinced by her former boss, Frank Mackey, to infiltrate the housemates of the murdered girl and see if she can find out if they were involved with her death. Using the evidence collected at the house, interviews, and the videos/photos on Lexie's phone, they recreate Cassie as Lexie. Cassie must balance in a precarious position, and deal with her increasing attraction to Lexie's life. In addition to trying to figure out the murder, the team also tries to track down Lexie's real identity. While I appreciated the psychological nature of the book, and the detailing of Cassie's crisis of identity, I had a really hard time swallowing the premise that none of her friends would spot her out as a doppelganger immediately. Thus, the story did not draw me in as much as the first book in the series.
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on November 2, 2013
I bought this book and In The Woods both by the same author of course. I was very excited to receive these books; however, after trying to read them both about 5 different times I finally just through them in the trash and walked away. I don't like throwing away books; however, I would feel bad giving this to someone because the book is so poorly written. It is like reading a book with no emotion, no climax, and it feels like reading is a chore instead of exciting and fun. I read on average about 50 books a year because I find it more entertaining then watching the same stuff on t.v. and reading is more educational. Books are never the same they all very in story lines. T.V. shows are so similar it is hard to tell one show from the next; additionally; I don't like watching trash people on t.v. like the Kardashions. I want a story line and something that entertains me and makes me think. This book was so boring I could not read it. The story may be great; however, I could not get past page 80 because it felt like reading a book that someone did not want to write. Maybe this is just the way she writes idk.
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on June 16, 2016
I like Tana French's writing . . . fresh, interesting characters, good descriptive passages, well-constructed plots . . . but I never completely believed in the likeness upon which The Likeness is based. The switch was not convincing to me in such an intimate situation. I finished the book, but was never comfortable enough to be totally involved.
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