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96 tears ninety6tears wrote in dublin_murder
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The Likeness discussion [ch. 4-7]


"...When exile somehow hit her out of a clear blue sky, she didn't fight it the way I did: she reached out for it with both hands, swallowed it whole and made it her own. She had had the sense and the guts to let go of her ruined old self and walk away so simply, start over again, start fresh and clean as morning."


Over the next week, Cassie works meticulously with Frank on every possible detail of her Lexie Madison imitation. She feels cautious about making assumptions about Lexie because they're unable to tell whether her personality was something that she constructed for the purpose of fitting in with these friends. One night Sam comes over for dinner and asks Cassie to profile the case. She says that the type of wound and the way the body was positioned suggests that the murderer and Lexie knew each other. Sam is leaning towards the idea that somebody in the house is the killer; Frank isn't ruling it out, but he and Cassie don't seem as convinced of this. Meanwhile Frank is feeding lies into the rumor mill about what's going on with Cassie and ensuring that the housemates don't have any reasons to doubt that Lexie is still recovering in a hospital.

Before they're about to start up the operation, Frank tells Cassie that for the first several days he only wants her to focus on not getting caught and not getting killed. He also gives her an awkward pep talk about how shaky she's been lately, ensuring her that if she doesn't panic, it can just be part of the Lexie front if she behaves erratically. On the last night in her flat Cassie spends the night with Sam, and he confesses he's been relieved to see her a lot happier lately even though he doesn't like her involvement with the case.

On Sunday afternoon Frank picks up Cassie and Sam to drive them to Glenskehy. Cassie has a sudden shot of nervousness just when she's leaving her home, but generally feels excited and prepared. Finally she's dropped off at Whitethorn House, gets a strangely hesitant but happy greeting from the "Fantastic Four," and is whisked off for some chatting in the garden before dinner. At dinner Cassie simply strives to keep up, feeling overwhelmed by the closeness of the entire group. Daniel starts talking about how the police were searching Lexie's room, then implies that they lied to the police when they said Lexie doesn't have any kind of diary, but that Lexie is the only one who would know where it was anyway.

Cassie slips off to bed early and then sleeps in late. Over breakfast Daniel tries to prod at her about how much she remembers, telling her that if she does start to remember something she should talk to him or Abby about it before going to the police. She takes the day off of college and searches the house when she's alone. Incredibly, she finds Lexie's diary rather quickly behind a board in the bathroom: It turns out to only be a datebook, and a very cryptic one at that. There are some sets of numbers and abbreviations, and a couple dates set with the letter 'N' next to it. Cassie can't think of any acquaintances of Lexie's whose names started with 'N' and isn't even sure it's for a name rather than a location.

She calls Frank and gets some very interesting news: A Victoria Harding who knew Cassie during her former undercover operation claims she ran into Lexie as recently as 2003, while Cassie is sure she hasn't seen her since before she was stabbed. This is sure to be the moment when Lexie realized she had a look-alike, as she even went out for coffee with Harding, presumably to collect more information. What ends up being suggested is that this wasn't the first time Lexie assumed a new identity.

That night when Cassie puts on her runners, Daniel expresses concern about whether she should be going out for a walk, then makes another comment that seems to be testing for how much she remembers about the evening Lexie got stabbed. Rafe becomes very irritable, and is waiting for her outside when she returns from her walk. She sits with him and asks if he's been angry with her; Rafe begins to get very emotional, asking her if she's thought about what the past week was like for them, describing the disturbing way the house was falling apart while she was recovering. He says that he thinks they all would have killed each other if she hadn't been alright in the end. She assures him that she's not going anywhere and manages to clear the air between them, but for the first time she feels a very difficult amount of guilt about how she's deceiving everyone.

When she's in her bedroom later, Cassie reflects on the fact that one of the unusual things about this murder case is that she's for once focusing more on the victim and almost forgetting about the killer. For a terrible moment all the behavior of the housemates throughout the evening seems to point to the fact that Lexie committed suicide and the others may have been trying to cover it up, but she quickly realizes that's too unlikely.





1) Why is Cassie so hard on herself about how much everything is upsetting Sam? Does she just feel guilty about making him worry about her or is there some deeper issue they're not really talking about?

2) Sam goes from being convinced Cassie isn't in her right mind lately to admitting that Operation Mirror is bringing some of her old bounce back; on the other hand, she admitted in one of last week's chapters that she thought there was a good chance she would end up getting killed doing this operation. Do you think the choices she's made at this point are healthy/unhealthy/a strange combination of both? If you've read on, does your idea of this change throughout the novel?

3) What are/were your initial impressions of Lexie's group? Do you find any of them particularly likable?

4) How does the atmosphere of a location like Whitethorn House add to this story?

5) How do you feel about Rafe's ghost story about hearing Lexie's voice in the garden? Does the story have any other little suggestions of the supernatural?



---

Next week we'll cover chapters 8-10.

Maybe I am too wrapped up in Cassie’s POV, but I really liked the housemates almost from the start, all of them. They are a weird bunch, and I get why they possibly come across snobby and emotionally distant to the rest of the world, but I am kind of fascinated by them (oddly, I think my favorite is Abby because she is the most conventionally “likeable”, I guess. But the guys are all intriguing in their own way). What I love most about them is how they are a family and love and support one another. Tana writes about a particularly type of friendships, those no-boundaries relationships that are inevitably doomed once you get older (yes, well, I am a cynic on this front), but the feel of it is so genuine and beautiful that you can’t help getting invested in them and hope for the happy resolution. I laughed when Frank described them as a cult, because they kind of are, but at the same time I love the old-fashioned and quiet life they have constructed around that house, and how they defy the rules of our fast-paced and commercialized world. Yeah, there is something very warm and intense in those kids’ relationship that I find both captivating and lovely --and yet, you can feel how that’s not the whole truth of it and how there is something else, darker, brewing under the surface. It’s interesting and odd to notice, now that I am rereading the book, how close they are but how many secrets they keep from one other.

I also love the setting, the house and the gothic atmosphere. I think French paints a very vivid scenery here. And I, too, love her portrayal of Ireland, all those allusions to the economic boom, the ancient family feuds, the beautiful countryside… It really makes me want to visit the country (soon, I think!)

Mmm… and Sam. I don’t know about Sam. I get irrational when it comes to him and I really don’t want to be unfair to the character. But every time Cassie is with him and talks to him and think of him (not that she thinks of him much, thanks God), I cringe a little. IDK. What I know is that Sam keeps saying “I love you” and she never says it back :P Truth is, I find it charming in a depressing kind of way, Sam’s ability to give Cassie the space she needs to cope with her ghosts. It’s so obvious that Rob is the big elephant in the room between these two (Cassie gets really defensive the one moment he brings it up when they are discussing the case) and one can’t help but admiring his patience. I guess that’s one of the many reasons Cassie chose him. But I find their awkwardness and all they are not saying slightly disheartening.

Oh, and a question I forgot. Why do you think Cassie decides to not tell Frank about Lexie’s diary? I didn't get it the first time around and I don't quite get it now...

I'm not sure about this either, because she doesn't really explain it. She did feel uncomfortable looking at it though, so it's almost like she's avoiding the invasion of that one bit of Lexie's privacy until she knows it could actually be useful for something?

Yeah, I could see that, sure. But it still seems a bit weird, because Cassie is not that attached to Lexie at that point of the story and it's not that the information in the diary is particularly intimate. Instead, I think it's obviously relevant to the case. Anyway, it's not that Cassie is in the ideal state of mind when she accepts to take part in the operation, so this kind of questionable decisions seem pretty much in character, given the circumstances.

Through all the Cassie & Sam scenes I just can't help feeling like she really thinks he's wonderful but deep down she knows she's not as far into this relationship as he is and that comes out in all the unreasonable guilt she feels, the way she feels the need to make up for it by cooking for him (when she's also been working hard) and not being too depressing to be around and it's just weird to me for someone like Cassie to be so hung-up on why somebody's being kind enough to put up with her.

Like Cosette said, I felt some affection for the Whitethorn cult (lol) from the beginning mostly because Cassie did, because she describes them as being so beautiful and idyllic. At the same time I find all of them at times pretty difficult to like, but I think what saves them is that they're capable of having a sense of humor about what other people think of them; somehow it makes being so different feel like something they're genuinely drawn to rather than just making them look like stuck-up hipsters or something. And I have to say now that I'm reading it the second time around I'm feeling way more protective about them, and sad.

Lexie fascinates me. I don't know if I can say that I really like her, but there's something really intriguing about Tana's choice to wrap up this enigmatic and sometimes ruthless and probably very intelligent person in somebody who projected kind of an immature personality.

You know what bothers me about Sam? It’s like Cassie is trying too hard to convince me (maybe because she is trying to convince herself) that he is that magnificent boyfriend. Everything in the way they interact points out to how good he is for her, how accepting and patient and forgiving. And as much as I wish I could see that as something good, I have a hard time buying their relationship. It’s not that they seem to enjoy each other’s company all that much, you know? And they don’t seem to have much in common either, aside from both being detectives and fairly decent people.

Mmm... I don’t like Lexie much. I respect the hell out of her abilities, but it’s difficult for me to feel sympathy for someone who was willing to vanish out of existence and leave all the people who cared about her and loved her without any explanation. That’s selfish and irresponsible and cowardly –though it’s been two years and I can’t quite remember the motives behind her choices. Maybe I’ll change my mind this time around. IDK. But yeah, she is definitely a very intriguing character.

(and yet, despite not liking her, I still remember how much I cried with that ending. Those last lines, especially, that were all about her. But I’ll guess we’ll get to that later, hee).


Edited at 2012-09-22 11:20 pm (UTC)

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