Posted in Books I have read

Second Life – S J Watson

Psychological Thriller 4*'s
Psychological Thriller
4*’s

Meet Julia, a woman who has a nice husband, a lovely home and a teenage son, she is also a recovering alcoholic. As the novel opens she goes to a viewing of her most successful photo and has to confront the fact that her early promise hasn’t been fulfilled and she vows to do more than simply take commercial photos as she has been doing.

Julia’s life is shattered when her younger sister Kate is murdered in what seems to be a random act in a backstreet in Paris. After the funeral she visits Anna, Kate’s flatmate who lets her know that Kate had been in the habit of meeting men on-line for sex. Struggling with her grief and fighting the urge to drink Julia is being less than supportive to Connor her son who is also struggling to come to terms with the loss of Kate. Having found the site-name and password to the sex-site she decides to log on, after all she doesn’t really believe that her sister was taken in some random accident and she becomes convinced that she can track down Kate’s killer. For some reason she isn’t in contact with the police, leaving her masterful husband to talk to the consulate and relay the information on the investigation.

I found the first half of this book to be quite slow-moving with endless scenes of angst and repetition as Julia talked herself round in circles, hiding details not only from her husband but her friends too, however once I got into the second half the tension ratcheted up along with the pace and I became quite immersed in the book and could quite easily kept reading to the end in one sitting. S J Watson certainly knows how to create good characters, I didn’t necessarily feel much sympathy for Julia, quite frankly her actions were only ever going to end in disaster, but I did care what happened and I believed in her even though she made some unbelievably stupid choices. I really enjoyed this author’s debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep, and the same style that invites compulsive reading is evident in this book and the mystery just as well executed.

This book also touches on a very modern phenomenon, cyber-sex and it was an education to see how Julia struggled to work out the etiquette to this other world. There are some steamy sex scenes in this book and although none of them were too graphic, there moments when I felt distinctly uncomfortable. Now in my reviews I usually avoid talking about the ending being wary of giving spoilers, however I just know that this one will divide opinion amongst its readers so I’m just going to say, I liked it precisely because I can’t help but mull over the how and why, which is why I enjoy psychological thrillers.

I will be recommending this one to those readers who like good writing, don’t need to like or agree with the main character and like a book to offer something in the way of a surprise.

I’d like to thank the publishers Random House for allowing me to experience some of the pitfalls of modern life from the safety of these pages in return for my honest opinion. Second Life is published today, 12 February 2015

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

26 thoughts on “Second Life – S J Watson

  1. I loved “Before I go to sleep” and am looking forward to read this one. I love surprise endings and don’t have to like the main character, so I guess this one’s for me! Thanks for the review!

  2. Cleo – I know what you mean about liking writing style or the outcome of a novel, even if you really don’t like the main character. I’ve read books like that too. I’m not entirely sure this one’s for me, but I do like the kind of book with an ending that makes you think. Hmmm……

  3. Am hearing mixed opinions about this one, but I’ll likely pick it up to judge my own reaction. I liked BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP quite a bit. Good to hear what you’re thinking. Don’t think it will be out in the US until the summer maybe.

  4. We do agree about quite a lot on this one, so it just goes to show how individual reactions are down to personal preference. I know you can tolerate more misery than me ( 😉 ) and you don’t have my dislike for FPPT. But the first half really needed a good edit to get rid of some of the repetition. Probably if I hadn’t been so bored and annoyed by the time I got there, I’d have enjoyed the seocnd half more – definitely better pace and some tension towards the end, and though there are credibility issues, I could probably have ignored them if I hadn’t already been put off.

    Great review – I always love comparing reviews when we read the same book at the same time! 🙂

    1. I totally agree, in this one I could see what other’s may not like as much, mainly Julia (and of course for you the dreaded FPPT) and it isn’t a book to read to cheer yourself up, as you say I have a tendency towards misery, it’s what keeps me so cheerful in real life 😉 Credibility is a hard issue because I’m always far more forgiving if I enjoy the writing but if I don’t I just get annoyed. Thanks I did enjoy reading your review of this one, if for nothing else to see whether you disliked the parts I thought you would. 🙂

    1. Oh I’m pleased it is on its way to you – it is very hard to review a second book which follows such an exceptionally good debut but this does have a lot to offer although you may struggle if you need to like the protagonist.

  5. Great review. I loved Before I Go to Sleep so I’m looking forward to reading this one. I think I’m glad I didn’t ask for a review copy though, will definitely add it to my library list.

  6. I was really excited about this one coming out as loved before I go to sleep, but am hearing mixed reviews now so it’s good to read your post as I think I will still like it. Looking forward to finding out.

  7. Great review, Cleo, as usual. I have heard a lot of things about Second Life, but I haven’t read Before I Go to Sleep, so I’m not familiar with S.J Watson at all. However, you all seem to love his latest novel, so it’s on my wishlist now.

  8. I enjoyed Before I go to Sleep but then I read some very strongly critical reviews of the latest one so decided it probably wasn’t for me. Now you’ve made me wonder if that was wrong decision

    1. I don’t think this is as strong as BIGTS and can see why some readers may not enjoy this one so even though I did, I’m wary of giving a blanket recommendation. I’ll be interested to hear what you think if you do try it.

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