In writing Final Cut I wanted to move away slightly from the entirely domestic, urban and claustrophobic feel of Before I Go To Sleep and open the story world a little. I’m returning to my preoccupations of memory, narrative and identity, though bringing a fresh spin and new maturity to them.
The story follows a young ambitious documentary film maker whose first film was lauded and her second less so, and who is struggling with her third film. She hits on the idea of making a film about life in a small, northern village and is persuaded, against her better judgement and for reasons unknown, to film
in Blackwood Bay. Once there she discovers a town shrouded in mystery and full of secrets, that threaten to engulf and ultimately destroy her. She has to dig deep to save herself, as well as the lives of others.
In researching the book, I was drawn to the idea of the way we document our lives now, on Instagram and Twitter etc., and the downsides of that, as well as the darkness that can hide in plain sight and the abuses that people can visit on their fellow humans. The sad fact is I had to tone down some of the horrific
atrocities I read about, or else the book would’ve been too dark, even for me.
A northern seaside town, disappearing girls and an up and coming filmmaker, made for a heady mix in The Final Cut. Watson gave us Alex, the young film mmaker, out to prove she wasn’t a one hit wonder, forced by circumstances back to Blackwood Bay. He created a great air of mystery around her, as his narrative switched skilfully between then and now. A story emerged of an Alex, who had had to quite literally drag herself up from a life on the streets, from drugs and danger to a seemingly safer environment.
But that’s where Watson made it interesting, was she really in a safer environment, what connection did she have to Blackwood Bay.
I loved the flashbacks he made Alex endure, a sense of something bad, as memories blocked came rushing back to her. You felt the simmering tensions, the fear of being recognised, of trying to work out exactly what had happened to her all those years ago.
The Bay’s characters had that mix of the normal everyday to the ones with something to hide, of secrets hidden deep within the Bay itself. All the potential connections and scenarios whirled around in your mind as you tried to understand, as Watson cleverly changed tack, as you turned round from one dark alley before hurtling down another.
The crashing of the sea waves, the cliffs and storms added to the maelstrom, the atmosphere dark and at times chilling. Alex’s memories forced themselves to the forefront as she encountered familiar faces, locations and the realisation that she wasn’t who she thought she was slowly dawned ever more brightly.
Watson played with us, and his characters, tangled possible answers until the last glorious twist, the truth shocking, and revelatory to Alex and ultimately us, the reader.
Watson so clearly grasped the psychology behind trauma, its consequences, the brain’s ability to block out the bad, the people, locations that could trigger flashpoints, and ultimately the crashing realisation of a past hidden away.
His themes of the exploitation of young girls, of its devastating consequences were realistic, not far from what happens in the real world and skilfully handled to provide a novel that was for me, page turning and complelling.
I would like to thank Doubleday for a copy of The Final Cut to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
S. J. Watson’s first novel, Before I Go To Sleep, became a phenomenal
international success and has now sold over 6,000,000 copies worldwide. It won the Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel
and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. The
film of the book, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong,
and directed by Rowan Joffe, was released in September 2014. S. J.
Watson’s second novel, Second Life, a psychological thriller, was published to acclaim in 2015.
S. J. Watson was born in the Midlands and now lives in London.