Wednesday, December 9, 2009

35. The Likeness by Tana French

Remember when I read In the Woods? And it was awesome? Imagine my excitement when Colin told me there was a sequel. Yay! I thought Colin would be eager to read it too, but he felt so burned by the ending of In the Woods that he literally scoffed at me when I brought it up. (So touchy.) I read this book over a Saturday night and Sunday while he was at work, so as not to bother him. I was a little stupid to start reading a mystery while I was home alone on a dark and stormy night (as I am a big scaredy cat) but it was so good that I couldn't put it down.

The Likeness isn't a straight-up sequel. Rob's partner Cassie is the narrator of her own story, which takes place about six months after the events of In the Woods. Cassie's past work as an undercover officer comes back to haunt her when the body of an identical woman is discovered in a remote area in a small town. Cassie's boyfriend, Sam, and her former undercover boss, Frank Mackey, call her to the crime scene. After learning that the woman, who was in no way related to Cassie, was using the fake identity created for Cassie's undercover work years before, Frank decides that they should pretend the woman was only injured instead of killed and that Cassie should infiltrate the dead woman's life to figure out who killed her and why she was using Cassie's fake name. After a week's preparation, Cassie assumes the identity of "Lexie" and movies in with her four roommates. After almost a month of undercover work, "Operation Mirror" comes to a shocking close.

This book was great! A total page turner. I could not put it down. French somehow found a way to make her crazy premise work -- by the end, you don't even remember being doubtful about it. Not only was the mystery engrossing, but the characters were well-developed and totally drew you in. For anyone like Colin who didn't get enough closure at the end of In the Woods, I recommend that you give this one a try. French gives you more answers and closure this time, and the payoff at the end is satisfying and credible.

I felt a personal connection to Cassie. She is the only child of a French mother and an Irish father, and the combination of those heritages gave her a unique appearance. Living in Ireland, she never met anyone who truly resembled her. That makes the discovery of "Lexie" so intriguing -- who is this woman and how is it possible that she look so much like Cassie? My experience is a bit different, but with similar results. I look a lot like my mom, but the shape of my eyes and my tiny nose (there's almost no bridge to it) give me a slightly Asian appearance. More times than I can count, people have mistaken me for Asian or part Asian. We went to a party given by family friends when I was seven years old, and someone remarked what kind people my parents were to adopt a Korean orphan after having two children of their own. (Indeed.) I felt as though I could relate to Cassie and possibly have similar reactions in the circumstances.

If you're in the market for a good mystery, or just a good read, pick up The Likeness. Oh, and I read online that French is writing a third book in this series, with Frank Mackey as the narrator. I'll be first in line.

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