Absolutely fantastic. Great characters, satisfying ending, beautiful writing. I can't wait to read about Frank's story next.
Full review to come later (hopefully).
P.S. Tana French, please revisit Rob's story so I can have closure. Pretty please with sugar on top.
Full Review (10/25/2012):
Once again Tana French has blown me away with this second installment of her Dublin Murder Squad series. Like its predecessor In the Woods, The Likeness seems to defy genres. It could be categorized as a mystery or a psychological thriller, but unlike most other books in those genres, the suspense is very subdued, and French spends more time exploring the characters and their relationships than solving crimes or catching killers. The plot does not race by at breakneck speeds, yet I still found myself turning the pages eagerly to read more.
French proves with this novel that she is a master at creating a dark melancholic atmosphere reminiscent of famous nineteenth century gothic fiction. The beautiful imagery and detailed descriptions made it easy to become immersed in the story and characters. Whitehorn House is both idyllic and creepy, a place too perfect to be real, filled with dark secrets, waiting to be unlocked.
All of the characters are well developed and have the sort of nuances and quicks that make them seem like real people. The relationships between the characters are equally interesting. Cassie was a wonderful narrator and I was happy to see that her voice differed significantly from the first novel's narrator, Rob. Cassie is a strong, intelligent, capable female character, though not without her flaws. At times, she frustrated me with her lies and lack of communication with Frank and Sam, but I found her behavior to be believable for her character and mental state. Frank was a great addition to the cast of recurring characters and I predict he'll make an excellent narrator in the next book. Sam is still likable, and logically I know he's the kind of man Cassie deserves, but I still found myself mourning the loss of her friendship with Rob and the chemistry between them despite the destructiveness of their relationship.
Although I loved this book, there were some believability issues that took me out of the story on occasion. The premise itself is implausible, and all of the characters seemed to have unbelievably good memories. They were able to recall specific dialogue from events that happened long before, which was helpful to the storytelling, but not at all realistic. Also, there were times when French's beautiful descriptions were overdone or awkwardly placed. Several times they were inserted in the middle of action sequences which diffused some of the tension and suspense. Still, these were small detractions in an otherwise wonderful novel. There's no doubt I'll be reading the rest of the novels in this series.