Memories of the past are still with her when she goes home to discover police cars. Fearful, she rushes in, worried about Connor, fourteen, her younger sister Kate’s son that she has been raising since infancy, but instead, she learns that Kate has been murdered in Paris. Julia’s husband Hugh, a surgeon, is there for her, just as he was in the dark days following what happened to her in Berlin. But nothing seems to alleviate the darkness that descends in the aftermath of Kate’s murder, and she becomes obsessed with finding out who killed her sister.
As she connects to Kate’s housemate Anna, she learns about her sister’s risky behavior. How she met up with online connections, and how they might have led to her murder.
Thinking she can learn more about Kate’s other life, Julia sets up her own profile, pretending to be someone else, hoping to find out more about her sister’s death.
How does Julia’s foray into the world of Internet sex fantasies become a kind of addiction? Why can’t she stop, once she starts? Why does she relent and start meeting one of the men? And how will one particular connection she makes turn into something malevolent and unexpected? Something that could ruin her family and expose them all to danger?
Secrets, betrayals, and a darkness from the hidden past will keep coming at her, as she races to save her son from certain danger.
The story is brought to us in the first person present tense voice of Julia, granting an immediacy to the action, as well as a glimpse of her thought processes throughout. The writing was engaging, but it was hard to root for Julia when she kept ignoring all the danger signs. Her foolish choices made me want to shout at her, warning her of how nothing good could come of this. Even Hugh was hard to like, as he seemed detached and not very forthcoming with information, especially since some of what he knew could have prevented tragedy.
I wanted to love Second Life: A Novel, and I certainly couldn’t put it down. The suspense accelerated as the book progressed, but I also saw the danger ahead not too long after Julia connected with the man she met online. And while I didn’t predict or expect the odd twists at the end, I knew that I was not going to like what would inevitably happen. 4.0 stars.