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

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[ARC] The Vanishing Box (DI Stephens & Max Mephisto #4) by Elly Griffiths

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Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are busy as closing act in the Brighton Hippodrome show, that is famous also for the Living Tableau. The tableau vivant scenes are static scenes acted by various girls, who, naked or almost naked, resembles pictures of historical or literature episodes.

Everything seems perfect until a florist – who lived with tableau girls in pensions – is found dead and disposed in a scene that resembles the show style. The murder investigation is assigned to DI Edgar Stephens, who again has to deal with Max slightly involved in the crime.

The crime plot in this series seems more and more unlikely, since there is the need to set them around magic-like shows (first, second, and third novel), however the choices the characters have to mak at the end of the book make me think that the series is going towards its conclusion.

The crime plot is nice but not exceptions, interesting instead the historical context and the idea to use the tableau vivant (of which I ignored the existence) as inspiration for murder.

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


* The Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

Out by Natsuo Kirino

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Masako, Yoshie, Yayoi and Kinuko work in the night shift in a company that produces boxed lunches. The four women are quite different for nature and behaviour: Masako is clever and cold, Yoshie, always kind, works to support her adolescent daughter and her disabled mother in law, Yayoi is a young mother, while Kuniko, hasty and spendthrift, is plagued by debts.

The relationships between them are destined to get stronger after Yayoi kills her husband after he tried to beat her. She ask help to Masako to get rid of the body, and for various reasons the other two women are involved also in the after-murder.

However it is not so easy to feel safe: some body parts are found, a loan company is suspicious about Kuniko money transfers, and a night-club owner, wrongly accused of the murder, is interested in knowing the truth and getting his revenge.

The atmosphere of the novel seems rarefied, both for the continuous worry about being discovered, and for the private life of the main characters, that does not provided them any satisfaction or happiness. Masako does not have anymore a dialogue with her husband and her son (who closed in a self-imposed muteness), Yoshie is vexed by demanding daughters and by her mother in law who constantly needs to be helped, and Kuniko is selfish and alone.

Out is an interesting noir, easy to read but distressing, and it show us a different kind of Japan, very different from the one we are used to know. It’s a suggested reading, but take into account that there is random violence and dissected bodies.


* Out by Natsuo Kirino ★★★★☆

*I read this book in italian

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

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

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Fifth installment of the Wells & Wong, or Murder Most Unladylike mysteries series.

In the best tradition of Miss Marple, or of the more recent Jessica Fletcher, we are fully aware that everywhere Daisy and Hazel go, a murder will follow.

This time the two girls are in Cambridge, with the purpose of spending a peaceful Christmas with Daisy’s aunt in a school near the one that Daisy’s brother is attending.

In the city are spending their holidays also the Pinkerton boys, a rival detective society, and the girls will have to collaborate with them (a relation that goes from friendship to challenges).

The crime plot is well-managed as always (my comment to the previous installments is here and here and also here), one of the features that I like is the historical setting, that emerge from small details; in this specific case the role of women in society – and in academy – is the most relevant theme.


* Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

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The story happens in Scotland in 1869, in particular in the little farming community of Culduie, the protagonist Roderick Macrae belongs to. He is seventeen and he admits to have murdered three people.

The author of the novel states in the beginning to have retraced all the documents related to the Macrae case, and he collects them in the book His Bloody Project, so we have medical opinions, the report written by Macrae himself in prison and the trial accounts.

The reader faces a series of testimonies about Roderick behaviour that contradict themselves: for some people he was brilliant, for other he was a fool, so he was either defined good or extremely evil. In the transcriptions rivalries between the victim and culprit families arise: one of the three dead is Lachlan Mackenzie, deputy of the village for the land owner, and from Roderick tale he was persecuting the Macrae family.

The purpose of Roderick’s lawyer is to have a verdict of insanity, and so to spare his client from the death penalty. Roderick understood his actions? And which reason brought him in killing three people?

The pro of this novel is that the reader is in the same situation of the trial’s jury: he/she has documents and testimonies and about them he/she can decide Macrae’s fate. And like in a jury the reader has to evaluate what to believe, since the documents are realistic, but the narrator could be unreliable.

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

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* His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

The classic crime stories by Agatha Christie

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During July the YA group‘s theme was classic crimes of the past and present, so I decided to read some novels by the most classic crime writer: Agatha Christie.

It’ unlikely to not know her most famous novels (like And then there were none and Murder on the Orient Express) and some of the characters she created, like Miss Marple or the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

I read some novels I did not read previously, and I think they are all good book to read during summer:

  • Death comes as the end
  • Three act tragedy
  • Five little pigs

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