On the eve of the Queen's coronation, DI Stephens and Max Mephisto uncover an anarchist plot and a ticking bomb - from the author of The Stranger Diaries and the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries.
'Mixes cosiness and sharpness in a way that recalls the best of Agatha Christie' Sunday Express (on Smoke and Mirrors)
Elizabeth II's coronation is looming, but the murder of their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, spoils the happy mood for DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. A playbill featuring another deceased comrade is found in Colonel Cartwright's possession, and a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card. The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic are for Stephens and Mephisto to be summoned to the case.
Edgar's ongoing investigation into the death of Brighton fortune-teller Madame Zabini is put on hold. Max is busy rehearsing for a spectacular Coronation Day variety show - and his television debut - so it's Edgar who is sent to New York, a land of plenty worlds away from still-rationed England. He's on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key, but someone silences him first. It's Edgar's colleague, DS Emma Holmes, who finds the clue, buried in the files of the Zabini case, that leads them to an anarchist group intent on providing an explosive finale to Coronation Day.
Now it's up to Edgar, Max and Emma to foil the plot, and find out who it is who's been dealing the cards . . .
In Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Griffiths's uneven third Magic Men mystery (after 2016's Smoke and Mirrors), magician Max Mephisto and Det. Insp. Edgar Stephens, who collaborated to misdirect German troops during WWII, reunite in 1953 London when their former colonel is murdered. Clues, including a newspaper clipping, an old playbill, and the ace of hearts (the titular "blood card"), point to a theater element and an anarchist cell plotting to disrupt Elizabeth II's upcoming coronation. With Mephisto preparing to headline a postcoronation TV show, Stephens flies alone to Albany, N.Y., to pursue a lead. Meanwhile, his astute sergeant, Emma Holmes, investigates a link to the recent death of a fortune-teller. The shaky plot relies heavily on coincidence and a gratuitously helpful criminal, but Griffiths excels at depicting the post-WWII transition from variety shows to television. A love triangle involving Holmes, Stephens, and aspiring magician Ruby French, the detective's fianc e and Mephisto's daughter, adds a human-interest angle likely to engage both series fans and new readers.
The Blood Card
Yet again Elly Griffiths provides a story which captures imagination and moves on at a very satisfying rate. The reveal is at the end which I always prefer.
I cannot wait for the next book!