I haven't abandoned my pledge to read paper-and-ink books. But I do love being read to while I'm walking. For short stories I highly recommend NPR's Selected Shorts and the New Yorker Fiction, both available on iTunes. When listening to a full length book, I've found, like Dorothea, that mysteries work the best. So, having enjoyed listening to her earlier book “In The Woods”, I loaded Tana French's The Likeness. The main character, who also appeared in the earlier book, is detective Cassie Maddox of the Dublin Police Department. Although she is no longer on the murder squad, she is drawn back into that world when detectives find a murdered girl who bears an uncanny resemblance to her.
And I'll say right now that suspending disbelief is not something I take lightly. I know we supposedly all have a double out there somewhere, but what are the odds that your splitting image lives in the same place you do? And do you really believe it would be possible to fool people who know your doppelganger? But I recommend that you accept this premise and dive in.
Cassie, pretending that the murdered girl has survived, assumes the identity of Lexie Madison, a grad student at Trinity University in Dublin who lives outside the city in a gone-to-seed Georgian mansion called Whitethorn House with four other grad students. Her task as a detective is to determine if one of her housemates is the killer. But, having spent her life as an outsider, she is drawn to the circle of friendship that Whitethorn seems to offer her. The group mantra is “No Pasts”, and they form a sort of substitute family that appeals to Cassie.
French creates a sense of foreboding in the early chapters that she sustains throughout, but the tension is broken by Cassie's combative, irreverent exchanges with her boss Frank. The story unfolds slowly (maybe a little too slowly) and the plot requires Cassie to make some foolish decisions, but French has made each of the housemates, as well as the other residents of the tiny village of Glenskehy, believable, three dimensional characters, and I was drawn in. One day I pulled weeds in my garden for an hour, just so I'd have an excuse to keep listening. Special kudos to audiobook reader Heather O’Neill, who does a wonderful job with the various Irish accents.