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The Likeness: A Novel
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Product Description

The eagerly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestselling psychological thriller In the Woods

Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She¡¯s transferred out of the murder squad and started a relationship with Detective Sam O¡¯Neill, but she¡¯s too badly shaken to make a commitment to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case: a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin. The dead girl¡¯s ID says her name is Lexie Madison¡ªthe identity Cassie used years ago as an undercover detective¡ªand she looks exactly like Cassie.

With no leads, no suspects, and no clue to Lexie¡¯s real identity, Cassie¡¯s old undercover boss, Frank Mackey, spots the opportunity of a lifetime. They can say that the stab wound wasn¡¯t fatal and send Cassie undercover in her place to find out information that the police never would and to tempt the killer out of hiding. At first Cassie thinks the idea is crazy, but she is seduced by the prospect of working on a murder investigation again and by the idea of assuming the victim¡¯s identity as a graduate student with a cozy group of friends.

As she is drawn into Lexie¡¯s world, Cassie realizes that the girl¡¯s secrets run deeper than anyone imagined. Her friends are becoming suspicious, Sam has discovered a generations-old feud involving the old house the students live in, and Frank is starting to suspect that Cassie¡¯s growing emotional involvement could put the whole investigation at risk. Another gripping psychological thriller featuring the headstrong protagonist we¡¯ve come to love, from an author who has proven that she can deliver.

Customer Reviews:

  • Follow up novel disappointing
    Tana French's first novel, Into the Woods was so good I couldn't wait for this one. But it was a big disappoinment. Slow moving, impossible premise and uninteresting characters. Stick with her first novel for the good stuff! ...more info
  • too much overlap with The Secret History
    Although I enjoyed reading The Likeness, I was distracted by the many similarities between this book and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. While the plot is not the same, Daniel is practically the twin of Henry Winter in The Secret History (seems detached but loves deeply, wanders off into scholarly monologues, smokes unfiltered cigarettes, freakishly calm and calculating) and there are many, many phrases and descriptions that closely match those of Donna Tartt. I have read The Secret History upwards of 15 times and reading this book quickly became a search for the next Secret History allusion. It's a shame because Tana French is clearly a strong writer on her own but her influences drown out her individual voice in this book....more info
  • Avoids the Sophomore Slump
    A lot of sequels suffer from an inability to live up to their predecessors. The Likeness is not one of those sequels. I found it even more compelling and beautiful than In the Woods. Both novels are character-driven mysteries with strong psychological underpinnings. They both use murder cases to tell stories that are as much about the detectives as they are about the victims. And both novels are filled with beautiful language that transports the reader to a little town in Ireland.

    In The Likeness, intrepid girl detective Cassie Maddox returns and is faced with another baffling murder case. The weird twist in this novel is that Cassie has the unlikely luck of being identical to the murder victim and therefore able to go undercover as the victim. While this sounds like it could easily slip into a horrible story that's equal parts Weekend at Bernie's and The Parent Trap, French manages to work her magic once again. She uses the improbable -- a murder victim identical to a murder detective -- to tell a rich story about the mundane -- what makes people tick.

    I enjoyed The Likeness even more than In the Woods because the former offered me some closure at the end of the story, where the latter left me wondering where the last chapter had been misplaced. ...more info
  • A great listen, despite the ludicrous plotline
    I am a big fan of French's first book, In the Woods, and was surprised by the many negative reader reviews of it. I listened to both books, and like with her first novel, I didn't want to shut off my Zen after I started The Likeness, despite that fact that the audio version is 22 and a half hours long. It was a difficult story to pull off, given that the plot involves sending a policewoman who so closely resembles a murder victim that she can pose as her, moving in with the victim's close friends and roommates in order to figure out who killed her. That really does require a suspension of belief, but somehow I bought it. I am not a big fan of American female novelists, but the Brits seem better at developing characters and describing their interactions without ladeling on the treacle. I am a big fan of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Denise Mina, and Minette Walters and I think French is almost as good....more info
  • Suspend Your Disbelief
    Go ahead and suspend your disbelief and enjoy Tana French's latest detective thriller, "The Likeness"...you'll be glad you did. Let French's great ear for dialogue (from her experience as an actress?) and her talent for building suspense take you into Whitethorn House and into the lives of four young and intelligent outcasts; try to figure out if one of them is a killer.

    I'll be enthusiastically in line for her next novel....more info
  • so noir
    This book, especially in the beginning, is a film noir -- except it's a book not a film and the detective is a woman not a man (e.g., Philip Marlowe). Tell Tana to write another one! ...more info
  • Liking the Likeness
    Tana French may be my new favorite author. I recently finished "In the Woods" her first novel it was a great read. I found myself disappointed that "The Likeness" was over when I finished it. I felt like I knew the characters intimately and developed concern for their future. French does a supreme job in developing her characters. The unusual dynamic between the characters was only possible through French's ability to create them and their unique personalities. Cassie Maddox the detective goes undercover to find information on a murder. While the premise was not factually plausible it pulled me in. French's understanding of police procedure and ability to paint a picture of the Irish countryside made the plot interesting. French is not a formula writer like so many American authors. She is new interesting and has the ability to connect the reader to the characters for a great bit of storytelling. I wonder what her next book will be about and will our young Cassie Maddox come back, she always seems to....more info
  • Even better than the first...
    I was really disappointed after I read "In the Woods" and found out that Cassie, instead of Rob, would be the narrator in the next novel. As crazy as Rob was, I was left still wanting resolution. That being said, I LOVED "The Likeness". It took me more than half of the book to actually realize how crazy the "family" was due to the fact that I wanted to move into one of the spare bedrooms! I loved the character dynamic, and was very pleased how often Rob was still incorporated into the book in Cassie's way. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially recommend it if you have already read "In the Woods". ...more info
  • Fantastic Read!
    A terrific sequel to her first novel. In the Woods had a riveting plot as does The Likeness, but in The Likeness, the writing was much clearer and therefore an easier read. I loved both books and highly recommend them for your book club, or if you are in the mood to get lost in an incredible story!...more info
  • "I'll never be free of her."
    In Tana French's psychological thriller, "The Likeness," Irish detective Cassie Maddox is shocked to learn that a woman who was found stabbed to death bears an uncanny resemblance to her. Even more startling, the deceased had been using an alias that Cassie and her boss, Frank Mackey, had invented for Cassie when she was working undercover. Years earlier, Cassie had posed as Lexie Madison in order to infiltrate a drug ring in University College, Dublin. Now, she has a position in Domestic Violence, having had her fill of both undercover and the Murder Squad. The question remains: How had the victim come by Cassie's alias and why was she using it at the time of her death? In what at first seems to be a harebrained scheme, Mackey convinces Cassie to pose as Lexie (who, the story would go, recovered from her wounds and didn't die after all) and return to her former life in order to learn the identity of Lexie's murderer.

    Cassie is the brash first person narrator, a risk-taker who believes that she can talk her way into and out of any situation. Although her boyfriend and fellow-detective, Sam O'Neill, is opposed to Cassie's potentially dangerous new assignment, she is jazzed as the opportunity to resume the exciting life of an undercover detective. She misses the delicate balancing act of assuming someone else's persona. This will prove to be a harrowing case that will test Cassie's acting ability, nerve, objectivity, and professional judgment.

    French has an evocative writing style that richly evokes both setting and character. The author's biting and sardonic humor adds flavor to this complex novel. "The Likeness" is more than a murder mystery. It is also an engrossing exploration of the nature of identity. What makes each of us unique? Which is the deeper connection--the ties of blood relatives or those of close friends? French also deals with the nature of reality and illusion and the many ways in which men and women deal with serious emotional trauma. During this assignment, Cassie will suffer from the stress of living a double life. On the one hand, she is Lexie Madison, a student who lives in close quarters with four housemates, one of whom may have been her killer. On the other hand, she is a cop who reports to Frank and Sam, offering her perspective on what may have happened to Lexie. Unfortunately, Cassie becomes so consumed with her alter ego that she begins to forget where she ends and Lexie begins; the two become inextricably intertwined.

    The book's flaws include a plot that becomes increasingly implausible as the story progresses. In addition, French goes into too much detail in her analysis of Cassie's past, behavioral quirks, and innermost thoughts. What keeps the book moving is the intriguing and unconventional relationship between the five postgrads who dwell in Whitethorn House: Lexie, Daniel March, Rafe Hyland, Abby Stone, and Justin Mannering. To one degree or another, they are all running from the past. Either have no parents or they are estranged from them. Yet there is something vaguely unhealthy, if not bizarre, about an almost pathological clannishness that discourages outsiders from invading their magic circle. "The Likeness" is suspenseful and absorbing, but it would have been even more effective had a judicious editor trimmed the manuscript, eliminating some of the repetition and extraneous information that occasionally slows down the proceedings.
    ...more info
  • Liking the Likeness
    Tana French may be my new favorite author. I recently finished "In the Woods" her first novel it was a great read. I found myself disappointed that "The Likeness" was over when I finished it. I felt like I knew the characters intimately and developed concern for their future. French does a supreme job in developing her characters. The unusual dynamic between the characters was only possible through French's ability to create them and their unique personalities. Cassie Maddox the detective goes undercover to find information on a murder. While the premise was not factually plausible it pulled me in. French's understanding of police procedure and ability to paint a picture of the Irish countryside made the plot interesting. French is not a formula writer like so many American authors. She is new interesting and has the ability to connect the reader to the characters for a great bit of storytelling. I wonder what her next book will be about and will our young Cassie Maddox come back, she always seems to....more info
  • Rediculous
    I loved her first book, it was funny, sharp, sad, and believable enough. In a detective story, you can't ask more than that.
    This book, has no credibility. You, have to be willing to put disbelief aside. A reader should never have to do that, at least consiously. Unless.... I stand corrected. Fantasy, and Comic book readers might really enjoy this one.
    I give this book 2 stars, because, as much as I hate it, I could never write a book. Even one as bad as I think this is....more info
  • Even Better Than Her First
    Read In The Woods First,Then The Likeness. They Are Both Outstanding. The Likeness Is Even Better.Well Written,Expertly Plotted Thriller....more info
  • An extraordinary book from a superb contemporary crime writer
    This is the sort of book that will turn you inside out and continue to haunt you long after the last page. Before I had even finished it, I wanted to read it again. I'm usually not a huge fan of crime fiction, but In the Woods was engrossing enough to lead me straight into this one -- which I gave up sleep to read, and still can't get out of my head. Tana French is not your standard crime writer, and this extraordinary book goes far above and beyond anything I had ever expected from it. The characters are extraordinarily well developed and appealing, the plot is wholly original and fascinating; on the whole, this is a nearly flawless book. I can't wait to see what else French has up her sleeve....more info
  • Filmmakers, take note.
    I bought"The Likeness" before I was halfway through "In the Woods." I was arrested by French's characters and her poetic prose. I am also an actor and theatre director - and kept envisioning ways to film both novels! What casting possibilities! What suspense! What psychological game-playing! ...more info
  • Left Me Wanting More... And Not in the Good Way

    I have to admit that I began this book with very high expectations. After reading Into the Woods, French's first, I found the prose so meaningful and immersive that I simply assumed that she would find an editor or some kind of mentor who would help with her story construction and fine tune a few of her characters. Unfortunately, she fixes a few problems to find a few others.

    The first star French lost right off the bat: this book is pure fiction. That is, to say, that it requires a suspension of disbelief which we all possess, to some degree, and use when we experience fictional work. Luke Skywalker didn't really live in a galaxy far, far away. We choose to leave our ultra-rational, sensical sides behind when we start reading or watching, and choose not to ask certain questions when faced with simple inconsistencies: "If he lived in a galaxy far, far away, how did we find out about it?"

    French chooses a premise for her second work which stretches that beyond measure. A woman who closely resembles the supporting character from Into the Woods, Cassie Maddox, is murdered and Cassie chooses to be put undercover as the woman, spinning a tale for her friends that she simply went into a coma and lost a lot of her memories about the stabbing. This is, of course, ludicrous. French tries to supplicate you by showing Maddox multiple films of her likeness in her daily life and having Cassie work super-hard at memorizing minor facts about the victim's life. It doesn't work: at the end of Act I, I still resoundingly found the idea of someone stepping into another's life and hoping no one would notice unbelievable.

    If, and that's a big "if", you choose to suspend your disbelief a little longer than I could, there is a reasonably good book underneath, which is quite enjoyable. Again, French shows her tremendous prowess in flowing passages about Cassie's anxiety and longing for the relationship the victim, "Lexie", had with her four roommates. It's very good, just like the last book.

    Unfortunately, French loses the second star due to another simple story construction problem which plagued her previously: tipping her hand at the wrong time. We immediately receive information about Lexie that's conflicting and provokes intrigue, and French does a great job of tittering the reader along as Cassie uncovers clues. Unfortunately, French establishes the "why" of the crime near the midpoint of the book, and finishes the climax with the "how". Why someone didn't stop her and say, "Hey, you've got a great story here. Why not combine the 'why' and the 'how' into the climax together?" It's a huge letdown when we find out who the killer is, but realize that we had known for some time what happened, sans details.

    Overall, another quality addition by French, but I just can't help thinking that there must be something better in her arsenal. I finished the book as quickly as I could after realizing that there was nothing else to find. The character "Daniel" is quite fascinating and French again does a great job penetrating the mind of Cassie for the reader, and she obviously has a very deep command of Cassie's persona. I look forward to her next adventure, hoping that it will be French's third book that really floors me.
    ...more info
  • Escellent story and well told
    Really enjoyed this book. Great story and interesting to read. Very well written....more info
  • Tana French's suspense of the year
    The Likeness is a follow-up to her first book, "In the Woods", and is very gripping and suspense during the whole read. The characters are real and you become part of the suspense that continues from every page turning. Recommend it very haighly and can't wait till her next book....more info
  • left me thinking
    I am a new reader of Tana French. The Likeness gripped my attention; I could hardly wait to finish the book. I did not read In The Woods; just realized this is a sequel. I didn't feel I missed anything by reading The Likeness first; I got enough to understand there was a bad prior case and Rob was a main character in Cassie's life (no pasts, right?). I had one problem, though - why did Cassie so closely identify with the group at Whitethorn House and risk her career for that? Maybe I'll get it after I read In the Woods. I intend to start that soon. ...more info
  • Even Better Than Her First
    Read In The Woods First,Then The Likeness. They Are Both Outstanding. The Likeness Is Even Better.Well Written,Expertly Plotted Thriller....more info
  • Wonderful
    This book is both a wonderful mystery, complex and multilayered in motivations, and is also a really good character study. It opens a few months after the events in the author's first book. Whereas Rob Ryan was the protagonist in that book, the view shifts to that of Cassie Maddox, his (now) former partner.

    The police find a murder victim in the countryside. When the Murder Squad is called, the first thought is that it is Cassie. The victim is an absolute double for her. Furthermore, her identity is that of an undercover identity that Cassie created and used several years before. After conferring with Cassie, the decision is made to send her in as an undercover, hoping that when the killer sees that the victim is "still alive," he/she may reveal his/her motive and identity.

    From here the book takes off as Cassie joins a tightknit group of Trinity graduate students who all live together in a large house. As we learn about each of her "friends" we are exposed to possible motivations. Is the killer one of these students who have a rather strange bond with one another? Is it one of the sinister locals, who historically have hated the house? Is it land developers? Is it a former lover? We are taken down each possibility. And then, who was the victim, anyway? Why did she use Cassie's former undercover identity?

    The author develops all of this beautifully, engaging the reader throughout. I recommend this book without reservation!...more info
  • Seductively safe atmosphere and delicately suspenseful plot. This is an intelligent, enjoyable mystery. Highly recommended
    A year after the events in In The Woods, Cassie Maddox has an unheard of opportunity: A recent murder victim is her exact double, and even used an undercover alias that Cassie created years ago. Now, she can become the victim, stepping into her life and her friendship with a close-knit group of four students, to try and crack the case from within. The Likeness is strongly atmospheric, with an almost magical setting, a closely interwoven cast of characters, and slow, delicate suspense. It isn't an attention-grabbing book, but it is an intriguing, strongly constructed mystery, and I loved it. Enthusiastically recommended.

    I picked up The Likeness because I read In The Woods and loved it--it was a dark and visceral book which captured me and simply would not let go. The Likeness is a different style of book. It still has a strong atmosphere, but that atmosphere is quiet, romantic, and almost magical (even though there's no magic in the book), building into slow suspense. Cassie enters an extraordinary life: a close-knit friendship whose apparent safety and strength seduces both Cassie and the reader; an old refurbished home which cocoons the occupants in a small, private world. Yet Cassie is in the middle of a murder investigation, and she is always in danger of being discovered or attacked; despite the utopian setting, the suspense builds: slow, delicate, insidious. It's a careful balance and, though it isn't as attention-grabbing as In The Woods, it makes The Likeness an intriguing and compelling read.

    Meanwhile, French spins an intelligent mystery. There are some unbelievable moments (not just the coincidence of the shared appearance and alias, but that an undercover investigation like this would ever occur), but the twist and turns are realistic while still surprising and the final reveal is entirely logical--but also tense and frightening. French's writing style is strong: Cassie has a unique narrative voice, the story is well-paced, and the setting and characters come to life (although some characters have unrealistically strong and simplified traits). I loved In The Woods so much that I was almost hesitant to read The Likeness, afraid that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. While I still prefer In The Woods, my fears were for naught. The Likeness is intelligent and subtly nuanced, seductive and suspenseful, and a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it--and, despite being an indirect sequel, The Likeness stands alone and interested readers not need read In The Woods first unless they want to....more info