Books & Literature

Book Review: The Resemblance, by Lauren Nossett

THRILLER: On a November morning at the University of Georgia, a fraternity brother steps into a busy crosswalk and is struck dead by an oncoming car. More than a dozen witnesses all agree on two things: the driver looked identical to the victim, and he was smiling.

Everything you could want in a contemporary crime thriller.

In Athens, Georgia, outside a college campus, a student is run over on a pedestrian crossing, dying almost instantly. Homicide detective Marlitt Kaplan happens to be visiting her German-professor mother at the time, and is first on the scene. Witnesses to the hit-and-run all agree on two things: the driver didn’t brake or slow down, and the driver looked almost identical to the victim.

Along with her partner Teddy, Marlitt begins to investigate this death. Was it an accident or something more sinister? The victim, Jay, was a member of a fraternity, so the investigation takes the police into the hard-drinking, hard-partying, misogynistic, nepotistic, world of “Greek life” on campus. And why did the driver look like Jay? Is it just because all frat boys look alike? With the background of a well-premised mystery, the reader also explores Marlitt’s own issues with fraternities, and her complex relationship with her parents.

The Resemblance is Lauren Nossett’s first published novel. She has produced a tight, taught, and twisty, thriller, with a protagonist who is enough of a renegade cop to keep the reader’s interest up. We sense that there is something buried in Marlitt’s past, and that mystery feeds into the more immediate one of Jay’s death. The privileged world of the frats is a great background for a crime thriller, with many deaths every year taking place in or around these organisations. And they are rarely found culpable. Nossett, having taught at colleges, clearly has experience of this world, and has added to that with great research. She also touches on the nepotism that has tentacles reaching out to local government and police, especially in a small city such as Athens.

This is a thriller which doesn’t disappoint. The twists keep coming until nearly the end. The loose ends are tied up (maybe a bit too neatly, but at least nothing is left dangling), and Nossett avoids an unrealistic retributive ending.

The Resemblance is a delight from cover-to-cover and delivers effectively on its crime thriller promise. I feel a Netflix series in my waters. And meanwhile, let’s hope Nossett has another manuscript in the works!

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: October 2022
RRP: $34.99

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