Book review: The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett

Monday, October 24, 2022 Permalink

The Resemblance is a debut novel by former professor Lauren Nossett and she certainly writes what she knows as this is set on a University campus and delves into the culture of fraternities as well as the camaraderie that goes along with those in their late teens or early twenties thrown together – often by chance… and privilege.

I enjoyed most of the novel but felt a little let-down by the end. I think it’s possible to guess what is going to happen but I expected a bit more of a twist, hoping Nossett would take the book in a different direction. It was, I think, a lost opportunity to add another layer without convoluting the why and whodunnit.

Book review: The Resemblance by Lauren NossettThe Resemblance
by Lauren Nossett
Published by Macmillan Australia
on 25/10/2022
Source: PanMacmillan
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1760989797
Pages: 320

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.

Detective Marlitt Kaplan is first on the scene. A local and the daughter of a professor at the university, she knows all its shameful history. But in the course of investigating this hit-and-run, she will uncover more chilling secrets in the sprawling, interconnected system of fraternities and sororities that empower the university's most elite students.

The lines between Marlitt's police work and her own past begin to blur as she seeks to bring to justice an institution that took something precious from her many years ago. When threats against her escalate, Marlitt must question whether the corruption in her home town has run off campus and into the police force, and how far these brotherhoods will go to protect their own.

I very much liked Marlitt as a lead character but I’m not sure her potential was met here. There’s some backstory involving her parents, particularly her relationship with her father and Nossett eventually gives us detail that allows us to better understand that. But her relationships with her colleagues seemed inconsistent and lacked depth and nuance. Similarly, the incident which sees her removed from the case – initially for a short period – derailed not only the investigation, but the flow of the plot for me. Until then I was quite engaged, but there’s a shift and the introduction of new elements felt like a scattergun approach [of unnecessary detail and complexity] rather than feasible red herrings.

Having said that, obviously Nossett knows a lot about the life of students and lecturers and does a great job at placing readers in this setting. Particularly those of us from other countries who don’t have fraternities and the like. The book takes a pretty dark look at that world, but I appreciated Nossett balances Marlitt’s disdain for them (which is explained to us) with others, who talk about the positive relationships forged during that their college years.

I’m not sure if the intention is to create a series featuring Marlitt. There are significant changes afoot for her as this winds up so Nossett has a lot of options in terms of where she could take her next.

The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett will be published in Australia by Pan Macmillan on 25 October 2022.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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