Remember when I read In the Woods by Tana French and it was awesome even if it was kind of a downer? I took the companion book, The Likeness (Viking 2008), from my parents’ house the same day that I returned In the Woods, but I just now got around to reading it. I try to space out the depressing since last year’s unfortunate Dragon Tattoo /Hunger Games overload.
The Likeness was even better than In the Woods, and not just because the narrator isn’t on a downward spiral into crazytown. Cassie Maddox was a major player in the last book as Rob’s partner, and I liked her a lot more than Rob, so I was glad to see her as the main character here. I was also relieved to see that she came out of the whole Operation Vestal debacle relatively unscathed. She and Sam are still dating, which made me happy since I love Sam and I want good things for him. I mean, I like Cassie and all, and I don’t want bad things for her, but if these two had a falling out, I would be on Sam’s side all the way.
So, since the unfortunate incidents of Operation Vestal, Cassie has transferred out of Murder and into the tamer realm of Domestic Violence. (This sounds terrible, but Cassie explains it pretty well. DV victims are still alive and there is something that the cops can do to help them. Not so for murder detectives.) One morning, Cassie gets a panicked call from the usually unflappable Sam who won’t tell her what is wrong and instead insists that she trek out to a crime scene in a tiny village on the outskirts of Dublin. Cassie obliges, confused though she is by the cryptic situation. She arrives to find her old boss from her Undercover days, Frank Mackey, at the scene with Sam. This kicks everything into a whole new sphere of weird, and still no one will tell Cassie what is going on. Irksome. When she finally gets in to see the victim, Cassie is in for a shock. The dead girl looks JUST LIKE HER. Also, she’s going by Cassie’s old undercover alias, Lexie Madison. (That’s right, this girl has stolen a fake identity. I did not promise you that the premise of this story was very plausible. It is doppelganger fun. Roll with it.) This revelation finally explains Frank’s presence at a murder scene; he didn’t kill off the alias, and he left it flagged with his contact info in the police databases. He didn’t see any reason to waste a perfectly good alias – they pulled Cassie out of undercover because she got stabbed, not because she got burned – so they just told everyone that Lexie had a nervous breakdown and moved to Canada. Frank, who has a reputation for being a leetle bit crazy and totally fearless, wants to send Cassie in as Lexie to suss out the murderer. Sam objects since Lexie’s four roommates are the obvious suspects, and sending his girlfriend in to live with possible killers does not sit well with him. I can’t say I blame him. Cassie ends up going in, of course, or the whole premise of the book would be wasted. She can’t help thinking that the killer may have been after her and got Lexie by mistake due to the uncanny resemblance, and she won”t spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder to be sure. I think that’s fair.
What follows is a pretty interesting look at life undercover – what happens when you get too comfortable, when you enjoy the company of the major suspects, and when you drop your guard. There’s also a good twist at the end, and the murderer isn’t who you thought it was. (Maybe. It’s all down to your point of view.) I can’t say much more without spoiling the fun, so I will just say highly recommended.