It is always exciting to discover a brilliant new talent. In her second thriller, The Likeness, Irish writer Tana French spins an elaborate tale that is bound to the roots of Irish history and the unique world of law enforcement as depicted by detectives Cassie Maddox, Frank Mackey and Sam O'Neill. Cassie and Sam are nurturing a quiet relationship that began soon after Cassie left the Murder Squad after a particularly grueling case. Now she is ensconced in Domestic Violence, certainly less dangerous than the Murder Squad or her former undercover case with Mackey. Suddenly the past collides with the present when Sam calls Cassie to come to a crime scene, the panic in his voice palpable. A body lays dead in a rural area outside Dublin in a dilapidated famine shack, a young woman who is the exact image of Detective Maddox , her doppelganger. The unpredictable Detective Mackey immediately hatches a plot with O'Neill's reluctant approval, but the decision will be Cassie's: return to Alexandra Madison's life after the police announce Lexie's recovery from her stab wound.
French isn't content with this imaginative plot, adding yet another twist to the tale: the murdered young woman has co-opted every detail of Cassie's former undercover identity. Reeling from the implications of their mutual past, Cassie becomes Lexie, determined to discover the motivation for the girl's secrecy and the event that has led to Lexie's fatal stabbing in a remote shack. There is some indication of the many nuances at play as Mackey drills the minutiae of Lexie's existence into Cassie's memory. A grad student in Dublin, Lexie lives with four other grad students in a rambling estate, Whitethorn House, inherited by one of the group, Daniel March. Gradually restoring the home during quiet evenings at home, Daniel, Lexie, Justin, Rafe and Abby form a complex unit, a "family" that shares decisions, finances and an intense emotional bond to one another. Careful to maintain her cover, Cassie steps into the rarified world of Whitethorn House, a waiting minefield, the detective unsure how her housemates will respond.
Blindsided by the harmonious relationships of the group, Cassie is seduced by an opportunity for closeness she has never experienced, caught between her dedication to her work and an increasing fascination with the others, the quiet, enigmatic Daniel, mercurial Rafe, insecure and troubled Justin and brilliant Abby. But for all her romantic notions of a sheltered domestic environment, real life eventually intrudes. Whether from within the house or the unfriendly village with an old grudge against the Marches, there is a murderer at large. As complex as Cassie's ties to her "new" friends are the undercurrents of tension between O'Neill and Mackey, Frank a master of manipulation in pursuit of a goal. Dense and rich, French's prose is evocative of time, place and history, her conflicted protagonist faced with a shattering decision, whether to embrace a new life or return to the old, a life forever changed by Lexie's sad fate, "the multiple innocences that make up guilt." Luan Gaines/2008.
Det. Cassie Maddox is called to the scene of a murder. When she arrives she is amazed at how much the victim looks like her. In addition, the victim has identification of Alexandra Maddox. This is the same name that Cassie used when she went undercover years ago at U. Dublin. Because of the uncanny resemblance to the deceased, Frank Mackey, Cassie's former boss in the undercover operation, sees a unique opportunity. Since no one else knows that Lexi died of her … more
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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