The Likeness by Tana French


“The Likeness” by Tana French is a psychological thriller and the second installment in the Dublin Murder Squad series. The novel follows detective Cassie Maddox, who has left the police force and started a new life as a detective in the Domestic Violence department. Her peaceful life is shattered when a murder victim is found who bears an uncanny resemblance to Cassie and is using the alias Lexie Madison, a name Cassie once used undercover during a previous case. Cassie is pulled back into the world of murder investigation as she goes undercover, taking on Lexie’s identity to uncover the truth about her death.

As Cassie delves deeper into Lexie’s life, she finds herself living among a close-knit group of friends who were her housemates. She struggles to maintain her cover and begins to form strong emotional connections with Lexie’s friends, blurring the lines between her real identity and the one she has assumed. Cassie becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the people around her, all while trying to solve the mystery of Lexie’s murder. “The Likeness” is a gripping and suspenseful novel that explores themes of identity, friendship, and the psychological toll of living a double life. It keeps readers on the edge of their seats as Cassie navigates a complex web of secrets and lies to uncover the truth.

10 Key Takeaways from The Likeness by Tana French:

  • Identity and Deception: “The Likeness” centers on the theme of identity and deception. Cassie Maddox, the protagonist, assumes the identity of Lexie Madison to investigate her murder. This theme raises questions about the fluidity of identity and the lengths people will go to hide their true selves.
  • Doppelgängers: Cassie’s resemblance to Lexie is uncanny, which creates a sense of intrigue and raises questions about the significance of physical appearance in our perceptions of identity.
  • Deep Undercover: The novel provides an intimate look at the world of deep undercover work. Cassie becomes deeply immersed in Lexie’s life, highlighting the psychological toll of maintaining a false identity and the challenges of compartmentalizing one’s true self.
  • Friendship and Loyalty: Cassie forms genuine bonds with Lexie’s friends while undercover. The novel explores the complexities of friendship and loyalty as Cassie becomes emotionally entangled with the people she’s investigating.
  • Complex Characters: Tana French excels at creating multidimensional characters. Lexie’s housemates each have their own intricate backstories, motivations, and secrets, adding depth to the narrative.
  • Atmospheric Setting: The novel’s setting, an isolated cottage in the Irish countryside, contributes to the atmosphere of mystery and unease. The remote location isolates the characters and heightens the sense of isolation.
  • Psychological Tension: “The Likeness” is a psychological thriller that builds tension not only through the murder investigation but also through Cassie’s psychological struggle. Her struggle to maintain her cover and her internal conflicts create a pervasive sense of unease.
  • Past Traumas: Cassie’s past experiences as an undercover detective haunt her throughout the novel. Her emotional scars from a previous case resurface, highlighting the lasting impact of her work on her psyche.
  • Exploration of Obsession: The novel delves into the theme of obsession, with characters obsessed with their shared lifestyle and Cassie’s relentless pursuit of the truth. It raises questions about the nature of obsession and its consequences.
  • Unpredictable Plot: Tana French crafts a plot filled with twists and turns, keeping readers guessing until the very end. The unpredictability of the story adds to the suspense and intrigue, making it a page-turner.


“The Likeness” by Tana French is a compelling psychological thriller that captivates readers with its exploration of identity, deception, and the consequences of living a double life. The novel’s intricate web of characters and their complex relationships adds depth to the story. The atmospheric setting, psychological tension, and unpredictable plot keep readers on the edge of their seats. Ultimately, “The Likeness” is a thought-provoking and gripping read that leaves a lasting impression, inviting readers to contemplate the intricate nuances of human nature and the lengths one might go to in the pursuit of truth and connection.



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