Bridget Jones fans have taken to social networking to voice their horror at the news that author Helen Fielding has killed off Mark Darcy.
In extracts from her new book, Mad About The Boy, published in the Sunday Times magazine, Bridget reveals that Darcy - her husband and father to her two children, died five years earlier.
Darcy was played by Colin Firth in the Bridget Jones movies.
Chloe Helen Lemmon wrote on Twitter: "One word for Helen Fielding: why?!"
Becky Milborrow asked: "What the hell is helen fielding playing at in the next bridget jones book!?
Fielding is due to speak at next month's Cheltenham Literature Festival.
In the published extracts, Bridget is revealed to have two children Mabel and Billy and a 30-year-old toyboy called Roxster.
Writing on Twitter, Mairi Thomson said: "Saw the news about the Bridget jones sequel, it comes out on my birthday and Mark Darcy is DEAD!!!! Awful news #birthdayruined".
Fielding's first book Bridget Jones's Diary was published in 1996 and a sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was released three years later.
Written in the form of a personal diary, the novels chronicle the life of a 30-something single working woman living in London.
In 2001, a film adaptation starring American actress Renee Zellweger, with Hugh Grant as womanising Daniel Cleaver and Colin Firth as Darcy, was released.
Zellweger was Oscar-nominated for the role and, in 2004, the sequel was released, although it was not as critically well received.
Mad About The Boy is out on 10 October.