Tana French's The Likeness closed right over my head while I was reading. I would come up for air hours later, in a bit of a daze. By the last hundred pages or so, I was racing breathlessly through chapters to get to the denouement. Not to say it's perfect. In the midst of all the excitement, my mind snagged on a few plot points that I found a little hard to believe, which I think is a real flaw in a mystery novel. I hate hearing that little critical voice at the back of my mind when I'm reading, especially if it's supposed to be escapism. It was also slow to get started. I knew from the synopses that she goes undercover, so why spend the first hundred pages setting it up? Let's go! My last criticism is that French indulges herself (or her narrator) sometimes by rambling on, but I think The Likeness is an improvement over In the Woods, in which you can skip entire passages and not miss anything important (although for the record, I am not usually a passage-skipper).
In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, although it doesn't benefit by the comparison. French's novel is more genre, less literary than Tartt's. Tartt's novel leaves you with a feeling of unease and corruption. I left the book feeling a little tainted just for having read it, which is pretty powerful. French's is a more conventional mystery, and not as well-written as Tartt's. For all that, though, it was a great summer read for the beach (or even for a long winter's night). I look forward to reading French's next.