Magic, murder and a mystery rooted in a murky wartime past. Meet DI Stephens and Max Mephisto
When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl.
The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar's. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men.
Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind.
Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another 'trick', the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in the killer's sights...
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Fans of Elly Griffiths’ wildly entertaining Ruth Galloway series will adore the first featuring a new hero: 1950s detective Edgar Stephens. Almost instantly, we’re treated to Galloway’s trademark plot twists, snappy dialogue and atmospheric historical detail as Stephens is charged with finding the killer of a girl found in a macabre state that reminds him of a magic trick. Contracting the trick’s inventor—Max Mephisto, who served with Stephens in World War II—brings him to a clandestine squad of magicians that might hold the answers, or maybe even the killer.
Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Griffiths (The Crossing Places) launches a new series with this engaging mystery set in Brighton, England, in 1950. The Magic Men, a group of stage magicians who performed special missions during WWII, have since gone their separate ways. Only one, Max Mephisto, is still earning top billing on the variety circuit. Others have become a police officer, a wisecracking comedian, a carpenter. The oldest of the group has drifted lower and lower in the profession, performing to bored audiences in sleazy strip clubs. The gruesome murder of a glamorous magician's stage assistant draws the former team back together. The portrayal of the backstage life and the onstage performances of illusionists forms a fascinating backdrop to the main action. Brief flashbacks to the Magic Men's wartime missions provide an equally gripping backstory. As the plot deepens, Griffiths's tone darkens, leading to a series of surprise twists. Readers will look forward to seeing a lot more of Max and company.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I really enjoyed this book - written in a slightly jaunty style, fitting the '50s seaside setting, which is nicely evoked without a word being wasted. Clear, memorable characters and a good plot that keeps you guessing and wondering. I'm moving straight on to the next one!
Love Elly’s other books but....
I really struggled with this book - couldn’t get into it at all. It got better about 3/4 of the way through and I’m glad I finished it but sadly I can’t recommend it (unlike all the Ruth G books and Stranger Diaries which are brilliant).