Rarely does Auntie M recommend a book before she’s finished reading it.  However, I am only on page 63 of Tana French’s new novel, The Likeness, and I already know it’s going to be humdinger.

French’s first book, In the Woods, won the Edgar for Best First Novel last year and was a stunner.

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The author is a waif of a classically trained actress who’s lived internationally.  It must be her acting experience that allows her to write so that we get into the head of her character so well.  The book’s protagonist is  Irish Detective Cassie Maddox, who went from Undercover to the Murder Squad in the first book.  THAT book’s action was enough to stifle her so that when this one opens, Maddox is wearing a nice new suit and doing Domestic Violence, tame after her last outing.

She thinks she’s settled, dating another detective for a few months, vanquishing the ghosts of her past, until a very startling event occurs, and this is one wild premise for a novel: She gets a call to look at the body of a young woman who is more than vaguely familiar to her.  In fact, she looks remarkably like . . . . Cassie herself, stunningly so.

To make matters worse, there is another, deeper link between the two women, and well, I’d better not say anymore or I’ll give the plot away and really, this one will keep you turning page after page.

After the strength of her debut novel, I was anticipating French’s followup, hoping she’d keep Maddox’s character going.  The prose tilts on its Irish setting, but not obnoxiously so, and is told in first person, so Cassie’s in your head from page one, her original voice and mannerisms making her a standout character.

As soon as I’ve published this, it’s me for the couch, the heating pad, a cup of tea and this book:

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