Year 4 / Book 42: Black Widow

42) Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre

Some slightly delayed book reviews forthcoming, which also usually means some slightly delayed recall on what I’ve actually read. This twisty, relevant thriller by Chris Brookmyre is highly memorable, though. It tells the tale of Diana Jager, a female surgeon who may (or may not, naturally) have killed her new-ish husband in classic femme fatale / black widow fashion. But this is far more knotty and twisty and interesting than anything so reductive.

We soon find out that Jager was the victim of sexist online trolling, after having been unmasked as the anonymous writer of a scathing blog about sexism in her hospital workplace; and this caused her to have to move hospitals, where she met said new husband. He (Peter) is a sort of barely grown-up man-child with barely a shred of emotional intelligence, and who appears to be regressing to some sort of teenager.

There are some other nice characters: the on-off police couple starting to work together; Jack Parlabane as the journalist getting mixed up in it all. But Jager is at the centre – moving between villain and victim with easy measure, and (testament to Brookmyre’s writing) believable as both potential psychopath and outrageously mistreated figure.

It’s clever, modern stuff and keeps you guessing right till the end – as the blurb says, not just about who did what to who, but also why they did it and, crucially, did they deserve it? With that, I’ll say no more except to say that this is the book by Brookmyre (veteran of comic-crime novels like Quite Ugly One Morning) which I’ve enjoyed the most, and I most heartily recommend it.

Score: 8.5/10

BUY IT NOW:  Black Widow (Jack Parlabane)

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