In Second Life by S.J. Watson we meet a woman who seems to have everything: a doting husband, a job she loves and a son who means the world to her. Yet there are hidden secrets behind much of this perfection that threaten to tear her world apart. Her son Conner is really her sister’s son. She loves her husband but occasionally obsesses over her earlier life. He is her partner, and in every way she tries to meet the expectations they have for each other. She has made some hard choices in life, one of those were taking her sister’s child. Julia often dreads that her sister Kate will want Conner back in her life, and she obsesses with how important he is to her.
When Kate is murdered, Julie is first relieved, but then aghast at her feeling. The police do not seem to care, and Julia finds herself immersed in the death in a way she can’t understand. When she finds a user name and password to a dating/Cyber-sex site in Kate’s papers she is determined to begin her own investigation. She is sure that this is where Kate met her killer. She is unprepared for the excitement she feels, and suddenly her own life is out of control. Can she stop her downward spiral or is it too late. Has she led a killer to her own front door, and if so how can she protect her own family?
Watson takes us on a strange and perilous journey into darkness, secrets and murder in a way that creates creepy vibes that make you uncomfortable. Julia feels the guilt of her relief at her sister’s death, and just that feeling makes her move in maddening circles of an investigation of her own, a way to find the killer and take away her pain. Watson’s depiction of Julia’s feelings of guilt is spot on. The character flaws exhibited keep you there hoping but make you uncomfortable.
Hugh, her husband is a rock and there for her, and Conner is just like any other boy his age. You are drawn to them as a family, and root for them to overcome the darkness that is encroaching on their lives.
If you enjoy thrillers and murder mysteries, with just that right amount of physiological depravity you will find this a work worth reading. I found the story to be riveting, although the ending was difficult to take. As you get caught up in the story you are ready for a solid ending, yet we are left with more questions than answers.