Black Widow is the twentieth novel by Scottish Writer, Chris Brookmyre , the man often referred to as a Tartan Noir author. As with many Tartan Noir novels, readers will not automatically sympathise with the main character, Diana Jager, but will read the story seeing her as a cold-blooded killer.
“My trial has barely begun, an no testimony heard, but already I know that in the eyes of the court, I am an abomination” (pg. 11)
The Story of Black Widow
The story starts in the court room where someone, who we later assume is Diana Jager, is on trial. Within the first two chapters, the reader will establish that a terrible crime has been committed and someone has lost their life because of it.
“Just think how they were exercised by the revelation that this bitch murdered her husband.” (pg.12)
After reading that, how can you deny that Diana Jager appears to have killed her husband, and by the sounds of it, has no remorse for the act either.
“As the trial proceeds, the court will hear how a driven woman acted out of the oldest and sincerest of motives: to be with the man she was destined for. My crimeand my actions will seem cold and heinous to everyone else because they can never know what I felt.” (pg. 14)
So who is Diana Jager?
Daughter to two doctors, it was always assumed that Diana would follow in their footsteps and she didn’t disappoint, becoming a top surgeon at Inverness Royal Infirmary. However, her journey to this point had not been a smooth one thanks to her opinionated blog, ‘Sexism in Surgery’, where she condemns both sexes for acts that are seen as unfair to females. Before too long, she had named and shamed many at the hospital she was working at, including a number of guys in the IT department.
She may have been writing under the name of Scalpelgirl but thanks to her sharp tongue and determination to highlight all that was wrong with the professional, she soon became better known as ‘Bladebitch’.
Worse still, after attacking the IT Techs, her account was hacked and her true identity revealed, leading to her losing her job and forever being tainted by the vicious words she wrote.
Hence the reason for now working in Inverness, her aim to get away from her past, but is that ever possible?
We are introduced to Diana on a fraught and stressful day where operations are being cancelled due to lack of beds and her mood is far from friendly. She has already had a run in with a patient after telling them that their op to help reduce their weight has been postponed and now her computer had locked her out and she was in need of technical support – which meant calling in Creepy Craig to help.
To her surprise, when the knock on the door comes, a new guy pops his head around the door.
“’You’re not Craig’
‘No I’m Peter.’” (pg. 33)
And, that is where all of this started.
Peter, new to the tech team, has not heard about her history with the blog or about her dislike of the IT team but does seem to enjoy her company, so much so that he invites her to a concert to get to know her better.
Fast-forward six months and this couple are marrying and discussing the desire to become parents – it would appear to be a whirlwind fairytale romance.
So where did it go so wrong?
Peter had recently gone into business for himself, had investors and was close to breaking into a new market for small online transactions. He was working all the hours he could in order to be the first to the market with this concept; hoping that this would give him the ability to provide for his family in the years to come.
Diana was becoming increasingly frustrated with his long hours, his desire to keep himself locked away for hours on end playing video games and eating pizza after a day in the office coding. They no longer sat down to dinner together, went out together or even watched a TV programme together.
Their relationship was quickly going from fairytale to nightmare.
Then came that fateful night where Peter’s car goes flying off the road at the notorious Widow Falls and into the freezing cold, fast-flowing river below.
When the car is finally retrieved no boy is present, so determining the cause of the accident is hindered. Add to this the strange reaction of Diana Jager when she is told about the accident and it is easy to see why police officers Kazmi and Rodriguez suspect something more has happened.
Not prepared to let it rest, regardless of the good doctor’s contacts, Kazmi and Rodrguez continue to probe further into the accident and into the relationship of the newlyweds in order to determine what truly happened.
The only question is, will they be able to undercover the truth?
At the same time, Peter’s sister is also in search of the truth and decides that the only way to succeed is to employ the skills of a journalist in order to find out what may have happened on that wintry evening.
Jack Parlabane, disgraced by previous actions, is more than willing to take a few days out of his monotonous life of copy editing in order to play detective. He is known for his tenacious attitude, never wanting to let something goes if he believes there is a story to be told, and by the look of things there is definitely a story here.
What is the truth? With both the police and Parlabane searching for answers surely it is only a matter of time before the facts are uncovered.
Is this a simple case of jealous wife lashes out at husband or is there something more to this?
Our Thoughts on Black Widow
This is the first Chris Brookmyre novel I have read but it won’t be the last.
Gripping from the start, this well-written novel will capture your attention, getting the brain cells working as you try to figure out the underlining story for yourself. It appears to be an uncomplicated case where the woman in question has confessed to killing her husband but I guaranteed you will be shocked with the outcome.
This is a book with twists that no-one would have considered.
My advice, pick up a copy today, regardless of whether or not you usually read crime thrillers, you will want to read this one.
Travelling Book Junkie Rating: ****
Have you read Black Widow or any other Chris Brookmyre books? Which one would you recommend to us?