Book Banter: The Likeness

likenessTitle: The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2)

Author: Tana French

Length: 466 pages

Genre: Mystery/suspense

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Set after French’s stellar “In the Woods,” Detective Cassie Maddox is still piecing her life back together after the events of that case. When the investigation of a stabbing victim who looks just like Cassie is failing to turn up any leads, Cassie is pulled back into her first policing career — undercover work. Not only does the girl look like Cassie, she’s using a former undercover alias Cassie had made up.

Cassie goes into the case to try and find the murderer. But her undercover operations pulls her in and her ability to solve anything might be the next victim.

Banter Points: If I hadn’t known already that Tana French was going to be a Word Nerd “Best of 2016” winner for something, “The Likeness” clinched it. Not only is is a grand whodunit almost of a the locked-room variety, but it’s a wonderful novel about characters. Whoever said literary fiction and genre fiction are two different things haven’t read French.

French deftly sews together the mystery part and the complex characters of a literary novel. She flips you back and forth, just like Cassie is torn between being a cop and being a person. The moments of police procedural read as tight and as true as a Michael Connelly and the characters make you feel like you could be wound into something like a Jodi Picoult novel.

French makes no secret that the story you’re reading is going to end up as a train wreck for the characters and still, you can’t look away. I had to keep turning pages, craving both the characters’ relationships and the moment when it was all going to crash and burn.

Bummer Points: I love French’s writing, but it’s so amazing that I need time before I can invest in another round of her emotional mysteries.

Word Nerd Recommendation: If you want excellent writing, French is for you. But if you want your mysteries light, pass this by. She’s not as dark as “Gone Girl” but she’s got a novel populated with some seriously broken people.

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