Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

There is no perfect marriage. There is no perfect murder.

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.

Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for.

Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance.

But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…


I never foresaw the end result, I had no inclination and was just as shocked as Jack Parlabane in those final moments, that is a good piece of writing.

This the first time I have been introduced to Jack Parlabane, considering I haven’t read any other work by Brookmyre and I began with book #7 of the Jack Parlabane series I never felt I should have read any previous stories, I have read other reviews which agree with this theory, this worked as a standalone thriller for me.

I couldn’t make my mind up if I liked the key characters, Diana Jager especially but I do believe she is cast in such a light by Brookmyre that we are not meant to like her, she is after all the main suspect. Most of the chapters are written from her point of view and depending on the subject matter is dependant on how she comes across to the reader and, in my opinion, how likable she can be. We have to appreciate she is giving her point of view and only telling us what she wants us to hear.

Black Widow is written from other alternative points of view, the main voice being Jager, as mentioned, and Parlabane. We do follow the journey through the eyes of a young policewoman, Ali Kazmi  and her new partner, they tell the story of Jager and Elphinstone from an outsiders point of view which I believes works but many other reviews state otherwise, it adds an alternative spin on the story being told and works seamlessly in scenes where they are needed to pull many of the characters together. Many stories written of this nature are usually told from the Police’s point of view whereas with Parlabane being a journalist I understand the need for the police presence throughout.

Certain parts of the story irritated me and without spoiling anything I found Jagers behaviour shifts hard to comprehend, she jumps from one extreme to another, portrayed as one person then a different persona altogether, almost with two personalities, if I had serious suspicions to believe my husband of adultery to the point where it consumes me, as it did with Jager, I am not really sure I would resort to her solution, however, I can understand the draw of another in the same situation offering a shoulder to cry on when it is needed most. Jager needs the contact of another human being more than she actually realises she does.

In her eyes the perfect marriage was not so, she had given up and began to distance herself to protect her emotion, which I understand. Looking at this from another view at this point we have only heard of Elphinstone’s behaviour from Jager herself, with the input from his sister Lucy and to be fair he is always painted in a bad light, if her marriage was so important wouldn’t she have fought harder to save it? Admittedly I did feel sorry for Elpinstone but never did he explain behaviour and being on the defencive made Jager’s suspicions more viable to the reader.

I found the book a struggle to read simply because I didn’t engage with the characters, albeit I did warm to Parlabane, I am glad I stuck with it because the end result was worth waiting for with the explosive reveal that affected most characters and changed the story as we knew it.

What goes around, certainly comes around and people usually get caught out. An excellent piece of writing by Brookmyre, I believe this will be a success in the marketplace, especially for all those Parlabane hardcore fans.


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