So this time not my usual review post because I teamed up this week with Martina @ The Mystery Corner. The idea was to read the same book and share with the the lot of you what we think of it. It wasn’t even difficult to agree on the choice of this book. So let’s see if we share the same opinion shall we?
What’s it about?
There is no perfect marriage. There is no perfect murder.
Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. 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’s kind, generous, and 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 fairytale romance.
But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…
Review # 1 – The Belgian Reviewer
Where to even start? I was fumbling in the dark with this book for so long, my head almost hurt from my burning questions. It seems such a straightforward story at the start, until it’s anything but. It starts off maybe a bit slow but it’s ablaze by the end of the novel all right and it’s worth hanging in there. It’s been a few days since I finished this book and it’s only now sinking in how ingenious this novel really is.
The story starts a little bit confusing with a follow-up of quite a few different voices but if you just bear with it, it will all smooth out before long. The novel starts with a woman calling in an accident. Then it shifts to a witness being questioned on the stand in a court room where a woman is standing trial for the murder on her husband. Jack Parlabene, a journalist, is present at the trial and seems to have made his own opinion about the woman standing trial. Another couple to the party is PC Ali Kazmi and Ruben Rodriguez who were first at the scene. The most important character and voice however is the one of Dr. Diana Jager. She is quite the character. When her husband’s car is found in the river and he is presumed dead, she doesn’t shed a tear. Other clues cast a forbidding shadow on her culpability. When Parlabene, on the request of Peter’s sister Lucy, goes around interviewing witnesses, the image conveyed about Diana Jager is not a positive one to say the least. But then she is Bladebitch too after all. A few years before she ruthlessly shared her grievances about some people she worked with on her anonymous blog. She started out collecting stories about sexism in her field but it only lead her further down the road, making denigrating comments about the IT personnel working in hospitals. When it all came out, she didn’t even give a heart-felt apology to those involved. That’s the person she is, or is it? It feels like she’s such a bad person, not very well liked, yet when I hear her voice in the novel, she seems to be a loving person towards her husband. She married Peter (an IT-er, funny that) after 6 months and they were very much in love. They prove to be good for each other, he totally gets her, he’s attentive and buys her the presents she secretly wants. So how on earth is it possible that she killed her husband? Chris Brookmyre did a brilliant job weaving in Peter’s voice in narrating his side through journalist Parlabene together with Diana’s voice. She incessantly talks about how he wasn’t who she thought him to be so I really started to wonder what was wrong with Peter and what could possibly have caused her to murder him? I was grasping at straws.
The third side is the police who subtly point out evidence and discrepancies in the story while it progresses. But the question remains: what happened in their relationship that it went downhill after 6 months in a devastating ending? You’re in for quite a surprise let me tell you that. I’ve read quite a few of psychological thrillers but this one is definitely one of the most cleverly crafted ones. This is also one of the outstanding and rare novels that both have a very strong characterization and a very clever plotline. The way the story is narrated kept me addicted to find out the truth. I didn’t know this was part of a series. In fact this is the 7th novel already, but fortunately, it did nothing to prevent me from fully enjoying the story and it works wonderfully as a standalone too.
I received a free copy of this book from the publicist through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Review # 2 – The Mystery Corner
The story begins with Diana Jagger being in trial, accused for the murder of her husband (this is not a spoiler since you know it from page 1). It then switches between present and past, allowing Diana to tell her story, not only from the moment she knew her husband, but since she was a little girl. Diana is a surgeon who after an incident in her previous hospital moves to Inverness. There she meets Peter, an IT guy who works in the same hospital. They fell in love and they married within six months, but is everything as good as it seems? What happened to Peter? And, was Diana involved?
I was very impressed with the plot and I enjoyed it a lot. It is intriguing, page-turning and twisty. Since the beginning you are told a story and you think that you know where it is heading. But let me tell you, it is so much more.
This is the thing that made me love this book. The characters are so well drafted, defined and developed that you think that you have known them for a long time.
Diana was my favorite character. I really enjoyed the parts were she explains her story not only when she marries but also when she was a little girl. I felt for her but I also disliked her at some points. She is a confident, driven, strong and tough woman. She grew up in a home with two younger brothers, a father that didn’t appreciate her and didn’t take much notice of any of them and a “shadow” of a mother.
“I didn’t see it for a long time because I grew up with it and because it was a hard thing to accept, but at some time around my late teens I realised that my mother has almost no personality”
She has grown to become a surgeon craving love and motherhood even though she didn’t like to admit it. She fights for herself and doesn’t stop or shut up if something matters to her, which is something I always love.
The character that surprised me most was Peter. I thought I knew who he was and his character but was shocked with his development.
Maybe it is because I haven’t read any other of the Jack Parbalane series but I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to know him better. He is a kick ass journalist and I would have enjoyed more about him.
It might be a bit confusing at the beginning with all the switching in the person telling the story. At first, we have Diana telling in first hand was is happening to her. But then it distances to a third point of view to tell the rest, so it confused me at the start, but afterwards I enjoyed this narration as it made me pay more attention.
Another thing that I have to mention is the amazing job done by the author in order to put himself in the shoes of a woman to tell her story, her feelings, illusions, the ups and downs of the marriage and fears of being alone for the rest of her life. All of this made Diana much more real and her story much more interesting.
In addition, the book touches important human topics that you may not hear so often and they are very well inserted into the story. Some of them are the work life balance for women as well as for men, the sexism in the medical world, the pressure for woman once they have a baby, and the ups and downs of marriage and any relationship.
The plot can be defined in just one word: a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The author gives you clues and hints at what might happened in the end and you start making conclusions thinking, “yeah I know how this will end”, but twists and keeps twisting until the last page.
I was impressed on how all the little pieces were finally glued together and nothing was left hanging (this is something that bothers me).
It has been a while since a book surprised me like this one.
I strongly recommend this book for all those mystery and thriller book lovers. You will enjoy it.