Saturday, January 4, 2014

Best. Thriller. Ever

The Likeness
by Tana French

Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller

Sorry, but I cannot do 100 words for this one and do it justice!

Review: This is the second time I have read this book, and it allowed me to see how much of an absolute master of the writing craft Tana French is. Often the thriller or mystery genre is not considered quite as literary as "the literary novel," but everyone who wants to be a writer should read this book.

 The premise of the book itself is amazing--Lexie, a post-grad in English literature, is murdered and found in a famine cottage, not far from her home at Whitethorn Manor. An undercover detective (Cassie Maddox) happens to be her double. Cassie must become Lexie, essentially, and infiltrate her life to find the murderer. The pacing and suspense will leave you breathless. What could be better than that? Maybe the writing itself.

At the sentence level, her writing is astonishing, poetic. You want to read as fast as possible, you HAVE to know what happens, but wait. Stop, pause and re-read a breath-taking description. Upon the second reading (years after the first reading), I noticed the symbolism of the mirror woven throughout--nothing in-your-face, just suggestive and powerful. The second reading also allowed me to notice the social commentary on Dublin and Ireland, the impact of history on the present, including thoughts on the economy and identity. 

Whether French is dissecting the minds of the characters or analyzing the thin lines between morality and immorality or reality and imagination, she delves deeply into what it means to live your life, to choose another life, and how precarious the threads we use to hang on to the people around us really are. Through her writing, French creates unreliable, not completely likable characters and narrators, but you still want to sit with them fireside or in a pub and talk to them forever. 

Movie News: Both In the Woods and The Likeness were acquired. The Likeness is still in development, according to IMDB.

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