Review: Final Cut by S.J. Watson

Title: Final Cut by S.J. Watson
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 360 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


A gripping new psychological thriller from S.J. Watson, the New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep, in which a documentary filmmaker travels to a sleepy fishing village to shoot her new film and encounters a dark mystery surrounding the disappearance of a local girl.

They tried to hide the truth. But the camera never lies…

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?


Final Cut by S.J. Watson is an atmospheric mystery.

Documentary film maker Alex Young returns to the place she thought she had left behind. With few memories of the time leading up to her moving to London,  she hopes this latest project gets her career back on track. Although the Blackwood Bay residents are providing clips of everyday life, Alex instead focuses on the girls who have gone missing from the village. Ten years ago, Daisy supposedly jumped to her death, but Alex doubts she is dead. Her friend Sadie also disappeared around the same time. Three years ago,  fourteen year old Zoe Pearson also vanished without a trace.

As she observes the teenage girls in town, Alex has the uneasy feeling something is not quite right.  She zeroes in on Ellie and Zoe’s friend Sophie in hopes of them will confide in her. When another girl goes missing, Alex joins the search but fears the worst.  Will investigating this newest disappearance help Alex regain her missing memories? And is she prepared for what she might recall?

Alex tries to keep her attention on her current project but it is her past she is most interested in.  She asks probing questions but she is often frustrated by the lack of straight answers. The townspeople are more interested in protecting themselves and no one is really interested in raking up the past. Alex is intent on hiding her identity but are the changes in her appearance enough to  prevent anyone from recognizing her?

Final Cut is an intriguing mystery with an interesting premise. Unfortunately the story moves at a snail’s pace and becomes bogged down as Alex fails to unearth any new information. The cast of characters is a extensive and it is difficult keeping up with who is who.  Alex is a sympathetic lead protagonist but is her narration reliable? With a couple of unexpected plot twists, S.J. Watson brings this suspenseful mystery to very dramatic conclusion.

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