The Likeness

[Amazon Link]

The second book in Tana French's series about the homicide detectives in Dublin. (Ireland, not New Hampshire.) This one concentrates on the female half of the investigatory duo on book number one, Cassie Maddox. The psychic toll she endured in that book was bad enough, but now she's back for more!

And hold on, because this sounds like the least likely premise for a mystery. It's well above average on the Contrive-O-Meter. Before she worked on the murder squad, Cassie worked undercover. Her final undercover persona was "Lexie Madison", terminated when "Lexie" got stabbed by a strung out dealer.

Then came her stint with the Murder Squad. Which was unpleasant enough to get her to retreat to the Domestic Violence department, also unpleasant but boring, (fortunately) not challenging her sanity.

But she's called out to a murder scene anyway, because the victim looks just like her. And (worse) the victim has appropriated Lexie's identity.

So (naturally) the obvious investigational strategy is implemented: "Lexie's" death is covered up; Cassie assumes Lexie's identity once more; and ingratiates herself into Lexie's (weird and dysfunctional) milieu, four friends, graduate students in English at Trinity College. Who all live in a ancient mansion bequeathed to one of them.

So it's kind of gothic and suspenseful. And how likely is it that Cassie won't eventually be found out as a fake? Given that the dead girl was also a fake? Hm.

French is a good enough writer to keep things at least seemingly plausible. Also maintains the general theme that police work can have deleterious effects on your psychological health.

Last Modified 2019-07-26 3:35 PM EST

URLs du Jour


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  • OK, so everyone knows I'm not a Trump fan, right? But neither is Kevin D. Williamson, and he claims The Mueller Hearings Revealed Why You Shouldn’t Bet against Trump.

    I  am not in the business of predicting election outcomes, but with all the usual caveats I will say this: If I were betting my own money on the 2020 election — today — I would not bet against Donald Trump.

    The Mueller circus offers us one lesson and one lesson only: The Democrats still believe they can defeat the star of The Apprentice in a reality-show election.

    Ain’t nobody gonna beat Donald J. Trump in a goat rodeo.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour is for those who agree with Kevin, and are brave enough to wear that opinion.

    (Did I say "brave"? That's not the right word. What's the word for someone who wants to wear their opinions?)

  • Jacob Sullum approaches the same topic from a different direction: Trump Thinks His Critics Are Traitors, and They Sling the Charge Back at Him.

    Yesterday Donald Trump effusively thanked the Republican legislators who went to bat for him during the Mueller hearings. "I very much appreciate those incredible warriors that you watched today on television—Republicans—that defended something, and defended something very powerful, very important," he told reporters. "Because they were really defending our country. More than anything else, they were defending our country."

    Sound familiar? During his rally in North Carolina last week, Trump excoriated Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who in January promised "we're going to impeach the motherfucker." In Trump's mind, that comment was evidence the Tlaib hates America. "Tlaib also used the F-word to describe the presidency and the president," he said. "That's not nice, even for me. She was describing the president of the United States and the presidency with the big, fat, vicious—the way she said it—vicious F-word. That's not somebody that loves our country."

    [I try to keep it TV-MA around here, but…]

    Jacob wonders: "Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country?" That sort of thing has been going on for a while, of course.

  • The usually moderate James Pethokoukis is not holding back when he describes The GOP's stupid swoon for big government.

    Talk about a dirty job. It’s tough, back-breaking work trying to manufacture a coherent economic philosophy and agenda out of the raw materials of Trumponomics: 1950s nostalgia, trade protectionism, a belief that real jobs (for working-class men) are factory jobs, and a summary dismissal of the economics profession. But right-wing populists have set themselves to the task. At the recent Nationalist Conservatism Conference in Washington, the crowd of Trump enthusiasts voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the United States to adopt an “industrial policy.”

    Of course they did. Blue-collar folks, at least the white ones, are now a key part of the Trumpublican coalition. This powerful new voting bloc seems uninterested in traditional GOP issues such as business tax cuts and entitlement reform. And in the case of free trade, these new GOPers are often actively hostile.

    Can this end well?

  • [Amazon Link]
    At Cato, Michael F. Cannon reports on glimmers of reality on Capitol Hill: Senate Finance Committee Considers Proposals to Cut Wasteful Medicare Spending.

    The Medicare program is a bonanza of centralized economic planning, special-interest lobbying, pricing errors, perverse incentives, low-quality care, improper payments, and fraud. To paraphrase Lenny Bruce, Medicare is so corrupt, it’s thrilling. It is so corrupt, we at the Cato Institute just published a whole book – Overcharged – about how corrupt it is.* That book has a section called, “Medicare Part D: The Always-Pouring Pitcher of Drug Fraud.” Overcharged recounts how “the passage of Part D is associated with a large increase in the average launch price of oncology products.” It quotes Senate Finance Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) as saying, “It may be that some drug companies are taking advantage of government programs to maximize their market share.” (Gee, ya think?)

    There are powerful interests in favor of keeping as much cash as possible flowing through the system, while keeping the rules opaque. [Overcharged available at the link at right. The Kindle version is $1.99, a real steal, unless reading it gets you so pissed off, you throw your Kindle against the wall. Might be a net loss.]

  • The latest proposal to "fix" Social Security is on the legislative table. At Economics21, Charles Blahous finds Eight Revealing Numbers from the Social Security 2100 Act. And here's one biggie:

    #1: Low-income workers’ payroll tax burdens would rise 19%. In order to fund its significant benefit expansion, the Social Security 2100 Act would increase payroll taxes on all U.S. workers, including the poorest ones. While many low-income American workers pay no federal income taxes, they nevertheless do pay payroll taxes. The Social Security tax rate would gradually rise over several years from 12.4% to 14.8%, which when fully phased in would represent a 19% increase in low-income workers’ payroll tax burdens.

    And it gets more "problematic" from there.

    Both New Hampshire Democrat CongressCritters, Kuster and Pappas, are listed as cosponsors of the legislation, of which you might think a smart GOP opponent could take advantage. It's the New Hampshire GOP, though, so … that wouldn't be a smart way to bet.