Source: Review copy
Publication: 6th August 2020 from Doubleday
Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to ordinary people.
It used to be a buzzing seaside destination. But now, ravaged by the effects of dwindling tourism and economic downturn, it’s a ghost town – and the perfect place for film-maker Alex to shoot her new documentary.
But the community is deeply suspicious of her intentions. After all, nothing exciting ever happens in Blackwood Bay – or does it?
Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to an extraordinary secret.
Alex is a documentary film-maker, whose first film garnered her some excellent praise, but she’s struggled to find a new idea that inspires her and the commissions are not rolling in. An idea she has pitched to a production company has merit and they’re keen for her to proceed with it, but they want it attached to a place with a story to give the film a real hook.
So Alex arrives in Blackwood Bay, a place that she never wanted to be. Once a pretty enough place with a bit of a tourism industry, now it is run down and somewhat neglected and the atmosphere is one of distrust, especially to newcomers. That’s not surprising, since the media have crawled all over it after three young girls disappeared 10 years ago.
Alex is our narrator and we quickly learn that her documentary style is to seek film and video from users wherever she is filming and she uses that to stitch together a portrait of the place she is portraying.
S. J. Watson does an excellent job of building a picture of the town and its key characters and creating an atmospheric, oppressive feeling that lingers as Alex – herself struggling with being in Blackwood and showing signs of not being an entirely reliable narrator – tries to get to the bottom of who or what caused these young women to disappear.
There are those who don’t want her raking up the past, understandably, and Alex is a bit quick to judge based on rumour and hearsay. What becomes clear though is that there is still a malevolent force in this town and that whoever is behind it is not taking well to Alex digging into the past.
S.J. Watson does write a fabulously dark and well plotted story and on the whole I enjoyed reading this and found the many twisted moments entertaining as the plot unfurled. But if you read a lot of psychological thrillers, this plot will not stun you, and it won’t come as a complete surprise when you find out what really been going on.
Final Cut has a solid pace for most of the book then ramps up towards the end as the town’s secrets start to spill out at an unstoppable rate and the tension jumps several notches for the dramatic conclusion of this psychological thriller.
Verdict: Verdict: A solid and enjoyable read with a nicely claustrophobic, oppressive atmosphere and some creepy characters but which at times felt a little too guessable – but then I read an awful lot of psychological thrillers.
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 and has been translated into more than 40 languages.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.