Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre

485 pages of heart-pounding, gritty, suspense-filled Thriller goodness. This book had me gripping the edge of my seat one moment, then feeling sympathetic or laughing the next. All the chapters are individually named, which is a unique touch; I liked that. There are multiple POVs in this book, the majority written in 3rd person, but Diana in the 1st which I really enjoyed as you got into her head, therefore letting the reader feel her processes. This offers a necessary softness and also adds comedic and realistic value to the story-line. This book is incredibly sordid and you won’t see the twists coming, and you’ll love it.

This story is not told in direct chronological order, but has flashbacks and offerings of each scenario viewed from multiple characters which works to influence your thoughts and make you think you know what’s going to happen… but don’t try to guess. I realised quite early on that there was going to be a complex parallel story, as there’s no way this would be a cut-and-dry piece of crime fiction; Diana was too brilliant for there to be a simple explanation. I really actually liked Diana from the start. For all her faults and the consequences, I saw a lot of genuine humanity in her and reading from her perspective was enjoyable and definitely added spark to the plot. Strong female characters don’t get much stronger that how Dr Diana Jager appears, but there’s so much more to her and the author gets deep into her psyche.

The police team’s interjections were a minor part, but crucial to exposing the true sequence and I think the plot would have been lost without their small part to play. There are quite a few extended characters who’s relevance seemed small, but at the end it showed how important they are, so the temporary confusion is resolved. Associated with that is the fact that the blurb is deliberately misleading and it is so well worded to make you think that this could be a “normal” mystery thriller. It is not.

Jack Parlabane features in 9 of Chris Brookmyre’s books, and Black Widow is the 8th in the series but works as a standalone, and a very good one at that. He is a character with integrity and purpose, plus a great intuition to be open minded, and I loved that his “rogue” moments were’t over dramatised. He’s written in the 3rd person which takes a little away from his personality, I wonder if the book would have read differently if he was 1st person perspective? I would like to read more in the Jack Parlabane series but I think that’s more based on how much I enjoyed Chris Brookmyre’s writing style and story planning.

I would encourage anyone to read “Black Widow”, but also I doubt you’d be disappointed if you picked up any book by this author. Just like the spider namesake, this book creeps all over you, making you wince and shiver but also with a paralysing fascination that keeps you following its movements. There are strong themes of control, consent, deception and trust and it’s not for the faint-hearted as the brazen disregard for privacy will unleash your inner anger deep in your core. Misdirection and perceptions of love and identity keep you deliciously whipping the pages through the short snippet chapters. Fast-paced and utterly thrilling – I loved it; it gave me everything I want from a thriller – a dream of a book. But, this is no fairytale. – GJ

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