TITLE: The Likeness
AUTHOR: Tana French
The Likeness picks up a few months after the end of In the Woods, with Cassie Maddox, one of the detectives on the case in that mystery now working in the Domestic Violence division. When a woman's body is found in a remote spot, Cassie is called in because not only does the woman look just like Cassie, but she's identified as Lexie Madison, an identity created by Cassie's former boss, Frank Mackey for Cassie when she was working undercover on a drug case. Frank gets the idea to pretend "Lexie" recovers from the stabbing and then have Cassie assume once more Lexie's identity, moving in with Lexie's grad school roommates at Whitethorn House. Reluctantly, Cassie agrees because she feels connected to this woman who looks like her and assumed her cover ID.
As the case progresses, the detectives working behind the scenes -- Frank and Cassie's boyfriend, Sam, from the Murder Squad -- discover the dead woman had a history of changing identities, so along with the mystery of who killed her and why is the added mystery of who she really was.
Although the book has a few plot twists, the killer isn't all that hard to figure out, although the how and why could've gone a few ways, and things did turn out to not be quite as dastardly as I'd figured. What makes the book special is the writing and characters. Cassie becomes enthralled with Whitethorn House and the life she begins living with Lexie's four friends. It's an idyllic existence until cracks start to appear as Cassie's investigation progresses. Cassie has to face what she, herself, wants from life as well as solve the crime.
The book starts out slowly. A hundred or so pages are mostly setup, but once Cassie arrives at Whitethorn House as Lexie, things start to pick up. What made me enjoy this book more than In the Woods, though, is that unlike the first book, this one resolves both mysteries it introduces. Once the murder is solved, we do learn who Lexie really was. Now if only French would write another book with Rob from In the Woods and resolve what happened to him and his friends when he was 12, I'd be a happy camper.