Final Cut by S.J. Watson

Posted On 6 August 2020

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Final cutMy five word TL:DR Review: Not quite what I expected

Final Cut is one of my little forays into psychological thrillers.  I read Before I Go to Sleep by this author and loved it so had no hesitation when it came to requesting a copy of this book.  A young woman returns to the sleepy seaside village that she ran away from years ago, she has no memory of why she left but she soon starts to uncover the dark underbelly of the village and puts herself into a dangerous spot by asking too many questions.

On the face of it this story has the makings of so many things I love.  The setting is really well done and plays so well into the plot.  Sleepy seaside village, now suffering from economic decline, hit further by the disappearance of a couple of young girls and the suicide of another.  There’s a general feel of despair about the place with the villagers themselves having an almost desperately sad quality.  When Alex arrives at the village to shoot a documentary that sadness turns into distrust.  This little documentary could shine a spotlight on the village and maybe promote recovery or it could simply be a wolf in disguise, raking up past troubles and dark histories that the inhabitants would sooner forget.  Then we have Alex, she doesn’t want to go back to Blackwood Bay and yet she’s not altogether certain why, her earlier memories being so sketchy.  There’s this overall creepy feel that something downright nasty is going to be uncovered and I confess that the story gets off to a great start.  And yet, this didn’t quite wow me as much as I’d hoped or expected – and that’s the rub with expectations I suppose.  To be clear, I read this very quickly and had no trouble with it but at the same time I didn’t quite fall in love with it either.

What I enjoyed about this was the small village town feel that the author does a wonderful job of portraying.  The place is very easy to imagine and I had a clear vision of what it looked like.  On the one hand there was the quaint cobbled streets, tiny cottages and shops, the local pub and the windswept moors, the history of smuggling and suggestion of underground tunnels, but this is then countered by the foreboding house that sits atop the cliffs, the tacky arcades and the young people huddled together, staring at their phones with an overwhelming sense of boredom.  There’s also a lot of dark and seedy material here which the author handles well.  Alex has experienced some scary situations and  lived life a little on the edge and this element becomes clearer as things progress.  There’s also a split timeline with ‘then’ and ‘now’ being explored which is a good way of dropping extra clues (or red herrings) along the way.

Now, I’ve struggled to really understand why this one didn’t quite blow me away.  I think there is an element of not being surprised by either the mystery or the eventual twist in the tale – both of those felt a little obvious to me but I’m not sure if that would normally have such an impact on my overall feelings.  I think I felt a slight irritation with Alex and the whole lack of memory issue, I don’t know why, it feels like a rather overused trope of the genre and that, coupled with a feeling of going round in circles and yet finding out nothing new for a good chunk of the story really started to change the feel somehow.  It seems like Alex is continually chasing her tale, sneaking around taking videos of people, telling all sorts of fabricated stories to try and get people to talk to her and yet by the end of it all, apart from feeling a little exhausted, she’s usually learnt very little in the process and that starts to feel a little frustrating, particularly, when the actual mystery is pretty much staring you in the face. Plus, I do have at least one issue that really doesn’t add up for me but I won’t mention it here as it would be a definite spoiler.

I don’t mean to be overly critical though.  As I already mentioned I had no problem reading this one.  The writing is enjoyable and I wanted to discover what had taken place.  In that respect, I would just mention that this book could be potentially triggering for some readers.  I wouldn’t say that it overly focuses on events that take place, more alludes to them, there’s certainly no graphic details, but certain parts of this story might be disturbing for some.

I would rate this 3.5 of 5 stars.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.



14 Responses to “Final Cut by S.J. Watson”

  1. proxyfish

    Great review, Lynn! I will probably give this one a miss but will definitely look out for Before I Go! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, Before I Go To Sleep is a very good read. Final Cut didn’t win me over in quite the same, I liked it and it was easy to get on with and a fairly quick read but I had a few issues that stopped me from being blown away.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Nadine - NadsBookNook

    Great review!
    I also read and loved Before I Go to Sleep, so when I discovered Final Cut I was disappointed to see such a low Goodreads score. I may still get around to it, but it’s definitely lower on the TBR now.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, it’s not a bad read and I didn’t struggle to finish it, but I had a couple of issues and although I don’t like to compare them (it’s difficult not to though) I did prefer Before I Go to Sleep.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I haven’t read this author before, but I am intrigued. Probably though a 3.5 rating won’t make me run out and read this one.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I mean, on the one hand this was an easy read and quick, but on the other I did have a couple of issues that irritated me – could be a mood thing. I’m finding that a lot at the moment.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The story’s setting sounds truly fascinating, but the fact that it seems to… needlessly chase its own tail is not exactly promising…
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, possibly a mood thing but I found it kind of irritating the constant running round in circles with very little gained. There’s a fine line between keeping something back for effect and just becoming a little annoying.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Greg

    I’m intrigued by this one! And I love settings like that- sleepy little towns with secrets, the smuggling background… sounds awesome!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s definitely got some good points. I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped but I wonder how much of that is my current mood when reading.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Just today I requested this one in audio. I’m hoping the format might alleviate some of the issues you mentioned, smoothing out parts that feel stuck with wheels spinning. I’m real curious now though, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it – it’s certainly a fast read and I look forward to seeing what you make of it.
      Lynn 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    Sorry this one didn’t quite do it for you but at least it was still a pretty solid read. Hope that your next read is better! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it was still good to be fair, just I had a couple of issues that prevented it from being a wow.
      Lynn 😀

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