New Book – Second Life by S.J. Watson

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Publishing year: 2015

One of the mysteries books I’ve enjoyed most was this author’s previous work, Before I Go to Sleep. That’s why I have great expectations for this new book.

The novel is told in the first person, and the narrator is Julia. Julia is quite a complex character. She is a photographer who used to use photography as an expression of her art, but now she only takes photographs of families and ordinary assignments. One of her old photographs is in an exposition, and shows a man, Marcus, who used to be her boyfriend when she was living in Berlin in the 1990s. We can guess that Marcus left his mark on Julia, but we don’t know much more about the man. Now Julia is married to Hugh, and they have a fifteen-year-old son, Connor. Actually, Connor is her younger sister’s son, but Julia and Hugh adopted him as Kate couldn’t look after her. Kate had Connor when she was sixteen, and nobody knows who Connor’s father is. I’m a bit confused about the time-reference. Julia mentions that she and Marcus were in love while she was in Berlin, and then she says that it was when she returned from Berlin that Hugh told him about Kate being in labour. Was Julia already married to Hugh when she was with Marcus? I have a slight suspicion that maybe Hugh is Connor’s real father; Julia mentions that they are quite alike, and they have a certain chemistry that she has never managed to have with him.

When the novel starts, Julia is having problems with Kate, who is now living in Paris. Kate wants Connor back, but Julia keeps reasoning that Connor is  in a delicate age, and he has only known the life Hugh and Julia have given him, so moving him from his environment wouldn’t do him any good. And then Kate is murdered in an alley in Paris after she left a pub.

Julia and Kate’s best friend Anna keep in touch after Kate’s funeral. Julia even goes to Paris, and it is there when overwhelmed by her pain, she has a drink. This is important as it seems that Julia is an ex-alcoholic.

The beginning of the book is quite intense. I’m not sure what the direction of the novel will be. Will we learn who killed Kate? Will Julia learn a few secrets on the way? And will Marcus reappear?

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