The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French

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Six months have passed since the conclusion of Operation Vestal; Rob left the murder squad and the Dublin police, while Cassie Maddox opted for joining the domestic violence squad.

One day, in a ruined cottage in the Irish fields, the body of a young woman is found. The woman, killed by knife stabbing, responds to the name Alexandra Madison, the fake alias that Cassie used in an undercover operation years before. For this reason Frank Mackey, director of the undercover squad, is involved in the inquiry; he notice the amazing likeness between the unknown dead woman and Cassie, and proposes to the police woman to work again as undercover to help the murder squad in discovering who killed the woman.

The police, about the dead person, knows only that she assumed the identity of Alexandra, that she was attending a PhD course in literature and that she used to live with other four students in Whitethorn House, and ancient house in the Irish countryside.

The point of view we follow in this second novel of the Dublin Murder Squad series is Cassie’s, who accepts to join the four students in Whitethorn House, like Alexandra Madison never have been killed but only wounded.

The premise of the novel could be defined unlikely (a woman like Cassie who happens to adopt the identity Cassie made up in undercover activity years before), but despite this the novel is very engaging, in particular after Cassie begins the undercover activity again. For the ones who read the first volume of the series (In the Woods), the reasons of Cassie’s dismay are evident, and also the motivation behind some unconventional choices in the undercover activity.

Again, Tana French builds up another thriller where the character’s psychology (every one of them very well described by Cassie’s PoV) plays a key role in the story.


The Likeness by Tana French ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

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1984, Summer in Knocknaree, Ireland. Three children go in the woods near home to play and they do not come back. The searches begin the next day, and only one child is found near a tree with blood on his clothes, Adam Robert Ryan, who does not remember anything happened in the woods.

Now, Knocknaree. In an archaeological site near the remaining area of the woods a girl is found dead. The murder investigation begin: the leader of the investigation for the Dublin Murder Squad are Cassie and Rob, who is the same child survived during 1984.

The story is told directly by Rob, who tells the story as he remembers it; this investigation is quite hard for him also because he is forced to walk in once familiar places. The 1984 case is taken into account again to check possible common points (maybe it’s a killer who wasn’t active for years).

The strength of the novel is the choice of such a subjective narrator: as readers we have access to a single point of view concerning the case and the people involved in Rob’s life. And in the end the most important question is: how much faith we give the narrator? How reliable is Rob in telling the story?

Once reached the ending I was not sure whether I liked it or not, but thinking about it I ended up agreeing with the author, since her choice makes the book more realistic. I suggest it for the thrillers lovers.


* In the Woods by Tana French ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

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Elizabeth Wright (Lib) is a nurse trained by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean war, and now she has a particular task: she has to watch continuously, in alternation with another person, for two weeks Anna O’Donnell.

Anna is an eleven years old girl who has not eat for four months, and despite this – the story takes place in August – she seems healthy: is it a miracle or a vulgar hoax?

Lib begins her monitoring with the aim to find the trick, but soon she struggles to comprehend the habits of the little Irish town, where every gesture is imbued in religion and superstition.

Lib grows fond of Anna, and disconcerted about the behaviour of the adult people around the girl: the mother proud that the child is taken as a saint, the doctor that sees the girl as a scientific experiment, people who come to visit the girl to touch the living miracle.

Lib will find herself impeded by this suffocating atmosphere, where everybody is interested in the child but not about her health, even in case of death they will hide in their religion, interpreted in the most strict and radical way possible.

Lib is the external elements that contributes in changing the situation, she is different because of her religion, her practical approach and her desire to actually help Anna: Lib does not simply observe and report – as the other guardian, Sister Micheal, does – but act in the static context.

The author wrote also Room, that gathered conflicting opinions, and I didn’t know what to expect from The Wonder, that is interesting for the historical context, middle XIX century Ireland, some years after the Great Famine and the interreligious little town, and engaging in the last part (while the beginning is quite slow-paced).

The author chooses to tell the story from Lib’s POV, and in my opinion this works well also for the characterization (that is not objective but subjective to Lib’s opinion).

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* The Wonder by Emma Donoghue ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

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Emma O’Donovan is a girl nobody would have as a friend: beautiful, jealous of her friends wealth, puppeteer and always loves to be the center of attention.

It’s the eighteen years old summer for Emma and her friends, and so parties, booze, the anticipation for the last school year and the expectation for what will come next in their future.

One morning, after a party, Emma wakes up on her family’s doorstep, she does not remember anything about the previous night and her friends try to avoid her. Soon Emma discovers the reasons behind their behaviours when she sees some photos of the previous day where she seems unconscious while having sex with some guys of her school.

Was this rape? Emma firstly declares she was aware and consenting, then she withdraw it – she actually does not rememeber, and the psychological weight of the situation begins to kick in. Emma was somewhat an easy girl: everybody know she was used to have sex never with the same guy, that she liked to be admired and she used to wear short skirts and low necked clothes. So the conclusion is that she was asking for it: she should have dressed in another way, beheaved in another way and then nothing would have happenend to her.

Louise O’Neill in Asking For It (#notaskingforit) focus the novel in the neverending debate seed: in a rape who is to blame? The blame changes if the victim wore a miniskirt or a dress? (Because there are instincts, it was practilly an invitation). The skill in dealing this topic stays in depicting a negative main character like Emma, because this way it’s harder to choose sides, and putting around her some apparently good friends (but a good friends is a friend in need, and nobody would like to have as friends Emma’s ones), and then abruptly changing the parts.

I think the writing sharp, and I appreciate the author choice to face difficult story, like she did in Only Ever Yours.

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* Asking For It by Louise O’Neill ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English