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By Dakota.Me.UK, May 17 2015 09:00AM

Second Life, S.J Watson, Doubleday, 2015


Second Life is S.J Watson’s second novel following the global success of Before I go to Sleep, which was made into a successful film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, it follows Julia as her sister Kate’s murder in Paris leaves her looking for answers. Kate’s son Connor is already under their care due to Kate’s troubled life, and we begin to discover the tangled web which Kate has left in her wake.


Julia seems to live the perfect life, yet we discover she used to live in Berlin where she was a photographer, a contrast in lifestyle to the life she lives at the time of the novel. She is also a reformed alcoholic.


Julia goes to Paris to spend time with Kate’s best friend; they form a close bond and agree to keep in touch when Julia returns to the UK. Kate’s murder leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and Julia takes it into her own hands to find out more. The first step is to register on a dating site Kate used to use, this will eventually become her undoing as she becomes addicted to the thrill of the attention she lacks in her marriage, and it is when things cross over from the virtual world to the real world that things take a darker turn.


I don’t want to give any spoilers, but will say I didn’t see the twist coming, other readers may have done. I like S. J Watson’s writing and feel the novel made a good social comment about how it is easy to spend part of your time engrossed in an online life, the reality can be very different. I did feel the ending was a bit far-fetched, but found the writing from a female perspective more convincing than in Before I go to Sleep.


The online reviews of Second Life seem to suggest it falls foul of the difficult second book syndrome. I wouldn’t disagree with this, but still think S.J Watson excels at thrillers, and hope his next book is a case of third time lucky and packs more of a punch. Worth a read.


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