Book Review: The Likeness by Tana French

Joselyn Hofer, Contributor

Detective Cassie Maddox is trying to piece her life back together after a particularly horrifying undercover case she experienced six months earlier. It looks like she’ll never return to the Dublin Murder Squad until she gets a call informing her about a murder. Cassie walks into the crime scene expecting any normal murder case but is surprised to see the victim is her double. The Likeness by Tana French takes us on a thrilling ride as Cassie attempts to decipher who the victim is and who murdered her.

The book sounds like an adventure full of twists and turns — and it does include that — but something French includes is a deep-dive into Cassie’s character. Not only is she a highly intelligent and skillful undercover detective, but she has a backstory that centers around the plot. It was this gentle reminder of Cassie’s human emotions that really made the story stand out for me. Although the plot was skillfully written with twists and turns, watching Cassie slowly unravel the case but also unravel herself in the process was what really made The Likeness a riveting novel.

That being said, the book doesn’t come without its flaws. Although Cassie’s character is complexly weaved together, other characters she meets in Daniel’s house fail to stand out during the first half of the book. They get slightly better towards the end but until then, I was failing to distinguish three characters in particular from the rest. They made no impression on me and acted in a sort of uniformity. Perhaps that’s what French wanted to get across, but first impressions are everything. When I meet a character, I want to see their personality in the words they say or in the things they do, but, in the beginning, all the housemates spoke in witty banter and really didn’t distinguish themselves until the end. 

Aside from that, the plot really pulls you in into Cassie’s world and makes you eager to guess at the potential suspects. And the writing is absolutely beautiful. Another thing French excels at — aside from forming magnificently complex protagonists — is imagery. The Likeness had some beautiful prose and metaphors that really made the story tangible. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery story and tell them to be prepared to have a wild time.

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