Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

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Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

Post by Graham on Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:08 pm

I was researching Brookmyre’s name change, shortening Christopher to Chris, and found an interview* where he acknowledges the decision was to reflect the dropping of the ‘irreverent idiom’ of his earlier work. I would say it is more than a change in tone. In his earlier books there were occasional faux pas, characters acting out of character, sentences that made the reader back track, and ludicrous scenarios. These were never show-stoppers because Brookmyre never laid claim to literary perfection. It was entertainment. In this one there are no false steps. His writing has undergone a step change which should propel him into the mainstream. The bookseller article says the change was made in 2011 with the publication of Where the Bodies are Buried and implies it will be used so punters will not be confused as to the amount of humour in their prospective purchase. ‘Here, ah didnae pay £7.99 for comedy crime.’

Black Widow won the McIlvanney prize in 2016 for Crime Novel of the Year and rightly so. It is superb, and I was hooked from page 1. This was another novel I ignored my obligations for and continued reading every chance I got.

Ian Rankin is quoted on the cover ‘Guaranteed to keep you guessing,’ and he is not wrong. I was wrong-footed all the way. A lot of the effect is in the different viewpoints of succeeding chapters. Many are a kind of prison cell soliloquy by Diana Jager, accused of her husband’s murder. Others feature the two police officers who discover the wreckage of his car in a highland river, and find the widow’s cold demeanour, not to mention the smell of bleach in her house, somewhat suspicious. They are PC’s Ali Kazmi and Ruben Rodriguez. You can’t get more Scottish than that. Jack Parablane, Brookmyre’s seasoned reporter, takes the lead in discovering the truth.

*www.thebookseller.com/profile/christopher-brookmyre

Graham
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