... interior characterization drives these books, and both run to nearly 500 pages. But I defy you to leave either at home once you've turned the first page ... It's a credit to French, and her knack for snappy dialogue and crisp prose, that the setup never feels convoluted ... the thrill comes in exploring the peculiar, collective psychology of the clique ... isn't about solving mysteries so much as exploring them ... Readers lost in their books may recognize a troubling likeness to themselves.
French has written another winner ... has everything: memorable characters, crisp dialogue, shrewd psychological insight, mounting tension, a palpable sense of place, and wonderfully evocative, painterly prose. In the Woods was an Edgar Award finalist; this one just might go one step further.
... teases considerable suspense ... some resemblance to Donna Tartt’s Secret History ... the conventional approach to this suspenseful setup would have been to make one Whitethorn resident or Glenskehy villager a secretly murderous figure and save the details for a frenzied denouement. But The Likeness intends a much longer and more leisurely look at the householders’ domestic arrangements, their inner lives and the yearnings they trigger in Cassie, who has no real home of her own ... Ms. French resists genre conventions defiantly enough to have written a long, rambling book, one that is more interested in character revelations than in 'Aha!' moments about the plot. She could have achieved the same effects much more succinctly in a more tightly edited version of this same story. But Cassie herself remains a strong enough character to sustain interest, even if many of her observations about Whitethorn have a vague, hazy quality. All she needs is a sparring match with Frank, and Cassie quickly returns to the land of the living — and to the subtle demands of her perilous, suspenseful masquerade.
Imagine The Parent Trap meets The Departed ... nearly pitch-perfect ... an ambitious concept that would be wholly unbelievable in the hands of a less capable writer. Thankfully, French takes her time developing her story ... Even more impressive is the author’s ability to convey the distinct eccentricities of Lexie’s literature-loving roommates, particularly Rafe, a messy, musically inclined, heavy-drinking rageaholic calmed only by a good joke. Read one page of his snappy, brainy dialogue with the roommates and you’ll understand why Maddox becomes too emotionally caught up with her suspects. You will too.
... concludes with a new spin upon the classic drawing room denouement, one that is not only memorable but also brilliant in its execution ... Tana French's grasp of her material belies the fact that The Likeness is only her sophomore effort. The subject matter that she explores is dense and deep, and only a few authors --- John le
Carre comes to mind most readily --- feel confident enough to tread into it. It is not something one can phone in or fake; French, as she demonstrates here, is the real deal. Combining elements of
police procedurals, dark psychology and classic mystery, The Likeness is a keeper.
... stunning ... French cleverly subverts the conventions of the locked room mystery, ratcheting up the tension at every turn with her multidimensional characters. Readers looking for a new name in psychological suspense need look no further than this powerful new Irish voice.