Book Review(s): Second Life & Murder Out of Tune

Second Life
Second Life - S. J. Watson
Haven't seen a wantonly self-destructive woman like Julia before! Hers is a pretty good life, a life that anyone would be extremely fortunate to have - a great husband, caring friends and well-wishers and a career going great guns, yet her world spirals out of control and begins to unravel when she learns of her sister's murder in what's claimed to be a random attack. Devastated and unable to move on, she convinces herself she is somehow responsible for her death, that she has failed her sister in some way, and decides to get to the heart of the matter, little realizing this could tear apart the very second life she holds dear.

I must admit S. J. Watson does a great job with the suspense, and the world of cybersex and online stalking he explores is fascinating as much as terrifying, but it's hard to empathize with Julia at the same time for what she's going through, or for the way she chooses to deal with them by making some really questionable choices to arrive at the unpleasant truth. No matter how grief-stricken and distraught she was, I just couldn't accept that she could be so naive! The story however is eminently readable and had me hooked from start to finish, even though it's not hard to make an educated guess of the whole mystery (that ambiguous climax notwithstanding). Overall a well-written sophomore effort from the author of the best-seller Before I Go To Sleep that could have been much more!

Murder Out of Tune
Murder Out of Tune - Lesley Cookman
Lesley Cookman's Murder Out of Tune is an interesting Agatha Christie-meets-Louise Penny kind of mystery, with an incredibly nosy Miss Marple solving the murders in a Penny'esque Three Pines setting. The similarity with the latter is too hard to ignore, right from the gay couple to the very endearing characters she creates to inhabit her narrative, yet it all feels very welcoming and real, especially the bucolic British backdrop which I thoroughly love (possibly due to growing up reading the Classics, Holmes and Poirot, what else!).

As for the story, it begins with the village of Steeple Martin gearing up for a Christmas concert. A group of ukulele enthusiasts in the locality have joined hands and rehearsals are in full swing. That's when one of the band members, an erstwhile scientist with a mysterious past, is found dead in the churchyard. But why would anyone want to do away with him? Libby Sarjeant, the Miss Marple in question, decides to find out in this engrossing, if somewhat predictable, whodunit.