The Likeness

Thoughts   The Likeness by Tana French, Penguin Books 2008, 466 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:    I enjoyed French’s debut, In the Woods, and picked this up now precisely because I was hoping for something I could get into fast and not want to put down.   It worked.   [Purchased.]     Counts for R.I.P. V.

FIRST SENTENCE:  Prologue.   Some nights, if I’m sleeping on my own, I still dream about Whitehorn House.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:    I’m going to quote the back of the book blurb:

Six months after a particulary nasty case, Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred out of Dublin’s Murder squad and has no plans to go back.  That is, until an urgent telephone call summons her to a grisly crime scene.

It’s only when she sees the body that Cassie understands the hurry.  The victim, a young woman, is Cassies’s double and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used on an undercover job.  Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl but, more importantly, who is this girl?  And as reality and fantasy become desperately tangled, Cassie moves dangerously close to losing herself forever.

RANDOM THOUGHTs:    I was pulled into how introspective Cassie was while also thinking that is was a bit melodramatic.    I both agreed with how the author gradually unfolded the presentation of the housemates of Whitethorn and wondered how they ever found each other.   Questions would pop up in my head and never get resolved, too.    (On the other hand, I think loose ends were tied up more neatly in this than in In the Woods.)   One of the leaders of the group was too perfectly cast; I didn’t trust his characterization and I questioned another’s devotion to him.   This is most definitely a book I would love to discuss and ask, ‘what was up with ____; why and who was he pushing at?’   Much good stuff to discuss if this was a book club book and I don’t necessarily think I would be spoiling to ask, but I won’t.

Per the question of whether or not it is a good idea to read In the Woods before tackling this one?   I would say yes.  In fact, I think the closer you read these two back to back, the better!   Even though they really are unrelated. I had already forgotten what happened exactly to so upset Cassie and why she transferred out of Murder-Squad and was constantly wishing I could quicker find a full recap of that – not that I bothered.   I  was just a bit annoyed with how I never remember how books end;  I only remember if I liked a book or not.

I thought the deep thoughts (on war, economics, society, class status, governments) that were sprinkled here and there were wonderful and/or provoking.   Some samples:

I know that small-town silence.   I’d run into it before, intangible as smoke and solid as stone.  We honed it on the British for centuries and it’s ingrained, the instinct for a place to close up like a fist when the police come knocking.  Sometimes it means nothing more than that;  but it’s a powerful thing, that silence, dark and tricky and lawless.  p.212

Frightened people are obedient – not just physically but intellectually and emotionally.  If your employer tells you to work overtime, and you know that refusing could jeopardize everything you have, then not only do you work the overtime, but you convince yourself that you’re doing it voluntarily, or out of loyalty to the company;  because the alternative is to acknowledge that you are living in terror.   p.337

FINAL THOUGHTS:    I enjoyed reading this and was entranced all the way through despite a few silly nagging little doubts about the characters that could have annoyed me but I suppressed.     French is talented and even if I don’t quite consider her a favorite author, I look forward to reading more from her.   Faithful Place is next.

I was thrilled [THRILLED!!!] that I had read Watership Down earlier this year because it had references to those silly rabbits:

For some reason, the past – any of our pasts – was solidly off-limits.  They were like the creepy rabbits … who won’t answer questions beginning with “Where.”

RATING:    Four slices of pie.

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p.198  strop – ‘…just as likely to storm out in a strop as to tell you what you wanted to know…’   I could only find this as a form of STROPPY = Easily offended or annoyed; ill-tempered or belligerent. (Chiefly British)

p.202  git – an unpleasant or contemptible person.  (noun, British, informal)

p.308  gavotte – an old French dance in moderately quick quadruple meter.


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21 thoughts on “The Likeness

  1. I’ve never read French despite seeing her name sprinkled all over the blogosphere. Then again, I’ve yet to tackle Watership Down as well, and that one’s sitting right there on the middle shelf…staring at me… 🙂

    1. I am SO glad I read Watership Down. It’s just one of those iconic reads that make you glad you read it no matter if you like it or not. NOT to say it’s not good. IT’s just so different! I really rec you read it, you will not regret your journey to find a new rabbit warren. 🙂

  2. I had a hard time remembering In the Woods when I read this one too. We read The Likeness for my book club and I was the only one who had read In the Woods. A lot of the members went on to read it afterward!

    1. Our book club read In the Woods and we all thought we would choose Likeness sometime later but I know a few of us jumped ahead and read it without the group. I only wish I had read it back to back. And since of course, I don’t have it in house, I couldn’t go read the last pages. I figured it out, though. It came back a bit.

  3. Pingback: Tana French – The Likeness « Fyrefly's Book Blog

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