black widow – christopher brookmyre

Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Diane Jager is a successful surgeon – but her words can cut as deep as her scalpel, as many found when she wrote an anonymous blog about sexism in the NHS.

With her anonymity outed rather dramatically, she has been living with the moniker ‘Bitchblade’ but now she is in real trouble. After a whirlwind affair, her husband of a few months is missing, presumed dead and everything is indicating that it is at Diana’s hand.

When her sister-in-law brings in Jack Parlabane to investigate, the nails can be heard firmly being hammered into her coffin – but is she really a murderer?

Whenever people ask me my favourite authors, Christopher Brookmyre is at the top of my list, and Jack Parlabane is definitely one of THE best crime novel characters. Although we’re seeing him at his most vulnerable in this book – disgraced, out of work and newly divorced to his beloved Sarah.

Parlabane is actually a secondary narrator to Diana in the story – her past narrative interspersed with his present investigations until close to the end, really twisting your perceptions of the truth one way and then another, leaving you guessing.

Tightly written, it is exciting, full of action, believable characters and a fantastic movie-esque plot.

Thank you Mr Brookmyre for never letting me down. I felt smug every time there was a hat tip to a previous book that I recognised.


when the devil drives – christopher brookmyre

When The devil drives

Still holding the coveted title of ‘My Favourite Author’, if he publishes, then I will read! I received this as an ‘Uncorrected Proof’ review copy.

This is the second book featuring young Jasmine Sharp, 21 years old and working as a Private Investigator.  Following the high profile Ramsay case that she solved in Where The Bodies Are Buried, Jasmine has got a bit of a name for herself.

When she is approached by a sickly older woman to find her sister who went missing without trace more than 30 years ago, Jasmine expects it to be a pretty easy case to solve.

The case has a personal pull for her tpp, the missing woman having been a promising actress.  As Jasmine followed her late mother’s footsteps, training to be an actress, she finds herself pondering on the life that both herself and her mother could have had, and feels an almost kinship to the missing actress.

What she doesn’t expect is the dark and twisted path the investigation leads her down – sex, drugs, ritualism and possibly even murder?

The trail is so ancient and the ‘players’ are amongst some of the most respected in their fields – so is Jasmine ever really going to be able to find out the whole truth?

I am loving Jasmine Sharp – I was a bit concerned that I would be missing Jack Parlabane from many of Brookmyre’s previous books, but Jasmine is superceding my expectations.  Her opening scene is pure genius.

She’s feisty, intelligent and razor-sharp – she may not have Parlabane’s sarcasm and cutting wit, but she has Glen Fallan once again – handy with a gun and a fist and generally a dead dodgy guy.  Emphasis on the dead there as that is what he has meant to have been for the past 20 years.  Fiercely protective of Jasmine, he is a formidable force to be reckoned with.

Also making a reappearance is Detective Catherine McLeod, covering a murder that Jasmine’s own investigation touches upon yet again.  But will she be able to solve the case before Jasmine using good old-fashioned (and legal) police work?

I am so glad that this series isn’t disappointing me – although i would still relish a Jack Parlabane reappearance 😉

It was very timely too that on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral (when Cameron was spouting all sorts of tripe) while reading this book, I read this phrase relating to the ‘video nasty’ uproar in the 80s (does anyone remember that):

“It was a convenient distraction for the Thatcher government too,” Finnegan added. “Nothing like a moral panic to take people’s minds off mass unemployment and riots on the streets.

I am overly excited to see that the third in the series – Flesh Wounds – is due out in August!!

where the bodies are buried – chris brookmyre

Where the bodies are buried

I managed to get a review copy of this, which was exceptionally great as Christopher Brookmyre is probably my favouritest ever author.

Note that this is ‘Chris Brookmyre’ though, and I believe this is to signal him going in a slightly different direction.  So, no Jack Parlabane, which is a shame really – it’s like losing a friend!  At the same time though, I am glad that it means a marked difference Pandaemonium, which I was very disappointed by (but which The Man still actually really enjoyed!!)

This story follows three main protagonists – Detective Catherine McLeod,trying to juggle her job and a husband and two young kids who doesn’t ‘do’ internal politics, and feels this may be holding her career development back; aspiring Jasmine Sharp who is helping her uncle out with his Private Detective agency and Glen Fallen, a notorious gangland member who is the only lead in one of her uncle’s cases, and whose death may have been slightly misreported.

When Catherine is involved in solving the case of a dead drug-dealer, her path crosses that of Jasmine and Glen’s and they realise that they may have to rely on each other to answer all of their questions.  The answers include corruption, deception and a history of violence that spans two decades.

I really enjoyed this, and think that Brookmyre had put a lot of effort into building up the new characters – they all felt very real.  I am always rather impressed when a male author manages to write believable lead female characters.

There were many little twists and turns and side plots that seemed irrelevant to the main story, and all came together at the end – neatly tied up in a bow that made you go “Oh yes – THAT’S what that was about!”, which is what I have always loved about Brookmyre.  Except this didn’t have the slightly surreal twist that ‘Christopher’ Brookmyre books seem to have had in the past.

One of the things I most like about Brookmyre is that he’s about the same age as me, and he chucks in little cultural references that *I* understand.  I will always remember back in one of my favourite of his books (The Sacred Art Of Stealing), he mentions 6 men dressed as clowns that perform in the town square, and then walk off ‘doing the Madness walk’, which was all I needed to put a VERY strong image in my mind!

And this book is no different – eg “It was like trying to remember what other film an actor was in before the days of IMDB.” and “Abercorn reminded her a bit of Don Draper in Mad Men: attractive in a classical way, but the wrong side of polished for her taste. Not enough rough edges: al l surface, no feeling.”

I get that!

I am very interested in seeing what comes next, I really want to know if all three main leads will be in the next book, or if they wont ever appear again.  I definitely want to read about all three of them again, and think it would be a shame if any of them disappear forever!

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