Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Black Widow

A Jack Parlabane Thriller

by Christopher Brookmyre

A brilliant surgeon stands trial for the murder of her newlywed husband in Scottish crime master Christopher Brookmyre’s latest thriller, a heart-pounding novel that dissects the darkest impulses of life online.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 448
  • Publication Date November 21, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2720-4
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 432
  • Publication Date November 01, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2573-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $25.00

About The Book

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

From internationally bestselling author Christopher Brookmyre, Black Widow tells the potent story of a woman who thought she was too late for love, the man who falls for her ambition, and the secret selves that are poised, at any moment, to end everything. Diana Jager is clever, strong, and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism in medicine. 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 is kind and generous, and he 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 fairy-tale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairy tales and tasks rogue reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling the Black Widow.

Still on the mend from his own relationship wounds after a turbulent divorce, Parlabane’s investigation into matters of the heart takes him to hidden places, online and off, no one should ever have to go.


“Hair-raising . . . [A] devilishly complicated mystery. Don’t even try to guess the outcome.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

Black Widow is probably the best thing I read last year!” —Diana Gabaldon

“Brookmyre, always excellent at building beguiling narrative puzzles, darts nimbly here among the police, Parlabane, and Diana, making Black Widow . . . a novel that unspools via multiple stories and strands . . . Brookmyre excels at melding the true chills of a psychological thriller with rollicking–if dark–humor. A witty and wild page-turner, Black Widow shines in showcasing this winning combination.” —Daneet Steffens, Boston Globe

“Exceptionally good—a knotty mystery that’s not just richly, provocatively political but one of the most perceptive excavations of a dysfunctional marriage I can remember reading.” —Guardian (UK)

“Intent on leading readers off course in their suspicions, Brookmyre deliberately takes us down a dark and winding road with multiple turnoffs to keep our attention rapt with every increasingly-quick flip of the page . . . A tense and provocative read . . . Brookmyre’s exploration of the female tendency to allow self-doubt to infiltrate and concede fault when we know it isn’t warranted is as gripping and harrowing as any tale of murder.” —Ruth Kinane, Entertainment Weekly

“An intelligently entertaining novel from a writer whose work has grown and evolved over the years to make him one of the most interesting of the ‘tartan noir’ set.” —National (Scotland)

“Intricate and fascinating . . . Black Widow is the mystery reader’s pound of chocolate. Irresistible. Nefarious. Satisfying . . . This is the quintessential whodunit, with revealing and tantalizing hints at each story shift from present to past and from changing views of principal characters. Brookmyre is a master writer and highly skilled at creating suspense . . . Black Widow is pure excitement.” —Jeffrey Mannix, “Murder Ink,” Durango Telegraph

“A consistently gripping read . . . Full of engaging twists, Brookmyre’s latest thriller featuring unconventional journalist Jack Parlabane is as compelling as it is clever.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A biting satire, nuanced enough to avoid polemic, about the medical profession.”
Sunday Telegraph (UK), 4/5 stars

“A smart thriller with a killer twist at the end.” —Irish Independent

“Just when you think you’ve got things straight, Christopher Brookmyre throws you another curveball in his newest book, Black Widow. Brookmyre builds layers of intrigue like a chef crafting a multilayer cake, with each layer providing another tantalizing clue or red herring to keep readers guessing.” —G. Robert Frazier, BookPage

“Mystery plotting at its highest level, all the disparate strands forming into a web and then into a knot that tightens around victim, detective and reader. There are two first-rate twists at the end, the last of which caused me to reread the opening chapters, just to see how well the author had fooled me. Top marks.” —Spectator (UK)

“Told in elegant slices, cutting between a court room trial and the events surrounding it, the story’s characters are compelling and the mystery is evoked with scalpel-like precision by the talented Brookmyre.” —Daily Mail (UK)

“A tense, dark thriller.” —National (Scotland)

“Readers are in for a wild ride . . . Many thrillers have shocking endings, but Black Widow has a humdinger. Brookmyre takes us from shock to shock . . . immensely satisfying . . . Brookmyre has always been known for writing mind-twisting novels, and this eye-popping book cements his already solid reputation.” —Betty Webb, Mystery Scene  

“Brookmyre opens the novel with a dramatic court scene, followed by a series of clever twists that challenge the reader to work out who is the victim of an extremely sophisticated crime.” —Sunday Times (UK)

“A powerful, captivating and brilliantly twisted piece of crime fiction. But it is also more than that, moving beyond genre conventions to provide a feminist exploration of gender inequalities in the workplace and a humorous parody of its own narrative expectation.” —The Skinny (UK)

“A compelling and memorable tale for readers of Tana French and those who enjoy the British TV show Happy Valley.” —Booklist

“Just when you think the plot can’t twist again, it takes a new turn. Even the twists have twists.” —McIlvanney Prize judging panel

“A remarkable book. We have come to expect no less from author Christopher Brookmyre, who combines memorable protagonists and sharp-elbowed antagonists with twists and turns, dark humor and pathos. Oh, and I nearly forgot, he also can and does manufacture a heck of a mystery . . . Brookmyre’s intricacy and willingness to experiment with the basic format of the mystery novel make this one yet another winner for him.” —Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter

“Brookmyre is an old pro and an accomplished technician. He makes it all work in a plot that . . . will entangle the reader from beginning to end.” —Yvonne Klein, Reviewing the Evidence


Winner of the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award
Winner of the 2016 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish crime book of the year
Shortlisted for the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger
Shortlisted for the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award
Longlisted for the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award


I regard the police officers standing next to me. There are no cuffs on my wrists but I can still feel the cold steel like I can still feel the sting of humiliation that comes with wearing them. It clings to me every second I remain in the dock. There is a burning coal of moral opprobrium in the black pupil of every eye focused on me.

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 crime and my actions will seem cold and heinous to everyone else because they can never know what I felt.

I think of all the anger and hate I have gone through since my arrest. It has taken time, but I have come to realize I must make my peace with what I have done. I need to take ownership of it. I need to forgive myself, because nobody else’s forgiveness matters.

In the end, regardless of how my actions are judged, I know that this is about love.