The Likeness by Tana French
Given how much I enjoyed French's previous novel, In the Woods, I have to say I was a little disappointed with her follow-up, especially since I had read that The Likeness was the stronger of the two. I did not agree with this assessment.
Following the fall out from the case from In the Woods, Cassie Maddox began dating Sean, and transferred to Domestic Violence. She is therefore surprised when he calls her and asks her to come to a murder scene. Of course when she gets there and discovers that the murder victim looks exactly like her and was using her old alias, Lexie Madison, from when she was an undercover agent it makes much more sense. Her old undercover boss, Frank, convinces her to use this as an opportunity to find the murderer when there are no clues or obvious suspects. Frank tells her friends and roommates that Lexie did not die, that she was in a coma so intense that her pulse was basically undetectable and that she had survived the assault. With this set-up, it is up to Cassie to fake it well enough for all her friends and acquaintances to believe that she is the murdered girl. She doesn't have a family or much background to worry about because Lexie obviously was hiding something and living with a false identity.
Cassie quickly becomes seduced by Lexie's life, especially since she is still dealing with the personal fall out from the case from In the Woods. She lost her best friend, Rob, and she can see their closeness reflected in Lexie's four roommates. She has also lost much of her former self-confidence.
I guess my biggest problem is that I felt like Cassie glamorized the four housemates a bit too much, and I just thought the whole idea of the operation was a little bit too far-fetched. I just kep wondering, really? Would they really invest this much money, and 24 hour surveillance for this long to solve the murder of one random woman? I could see where it would have been fun to live in the house where Cassie was undercover with all the other literature grad students, and how it would have made for some fun discussions but something about the plot just seemed more on the ridiculous side rather than intriguing. Mostly I think it was just a little to slow to really start investigating the murder much, and also, Cassie's mindset irritated me. In French's last novel, Rob kept making stupid mistakes and assumptions due to his past. In this case, Cassie was dealing with too many of her demons, and had similar issues.
I really enjoyed the idea of the housemates and reading about their dynamics was interesting, but overall, the execution seemed slightly lacking. Part of the reason I enjoyed In the Woods is because it reminded me of other novels, such as Mystic River with its basic set up, and this novel didn't have that going for it.