The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2)

The Likeness – Tana French

After the events of In The Woods, former undercover officer Cassie Maddox is finally getting back to some sense of normality following her transfer to the domestic violence department.   All that changes when the body of a woman turns up in an Irish countryside.  Cassie’s former boss, Frank MacKey, calls Cassie in to have a look at the woman who appears to be Cassie’s exact double.  Stranger yet, the woman was using the name and identity of one of Cassie’s prior aliases, Lexie Madison.  Frank suspects Lexie’s flat mates as the culprits and convinces Cassie to go undercover once again to find the truth.

There is no way this should work.  The premise alone is so unbelievable that I initially had a hard time getting into it.  How in the world could these four individuals be so dumb as to not immediately tell that this was not their roommate?  Critical acclaim for In The Woods aside, this requires the reader to put an immense amount of faith in an author without a proven track record.  I’m glad I did however, because once I bought it, I was rewarded with a satisfying story.

That said, I hated the people Cassie went undercover to investigate.  They were insufferable, whiny jerks who had massive egos that I found to be unbearable.  I may be way off on this, but I can’t imagine that French wanted you to like them.  Or maybe she did?  She certainly painted them as the victims given how much resistance they faced from the townsfolk that wanted them all out of the quaint little village.

Relationships and how they disintegrate over time is a key theme in this book.  The aforementioned “whiny jerks” shucked their pasts and chose to instead identify one another as family in an attempt to create life-long bonds that would keep each other from getting hurt in the future by others.  French also explores the tiny threads that struggle to keep us stitched together when time refuses to help.  Cassie’s work as an undercover agent has put immeasurable strain on her life and choosing to once again enter that life threatens to continue the damage.

There are a few moments here that nearly brought a tear to my eye.  As much as I’ve ragged on Lexie’s friends, French writes with such a reverence about the power and fragility of deep friendships that you can’t help but get choked up.

“The idea was flawed, of course,” he said irritably. “Innately and fatally flawed. It depended on two of the human race’s greatest myths: the possibility of permanence, and the simplicity of human nature. Both of which are all well and good in literature, but the purest fantasy outside the covers of a book. Our story should have stopped that night with the cold cocoa, the night we moved in: and they all lived happily ever after, the end. Inconveniently, however, real life demanded that we keep on living.”

The Likeness, insane premise aside, was an enjoyable read that I can maybe see myself coming back to someday.  However, there are four books waiting for me in the Dublin Murder series that I must get through first.

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