The Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths

The Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths

Magician Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are headlining at the Hippodrome Theater in Brighton, the first time they've done a father-daughter act. DI Edgar Stephens, engaged to Ruby, is called to the murder scene of a young florist found posed and dead in her room at a boarding house. Also staying in the house are two young women who are in the show, a part of the tableaux of nearly-naked "living statues." As the bodies begin to multiply, Edgar and his team, are under pressure to find the killer. I hate to admit that I like Max better than Edgar. Edgar is a good guy, hard-working, honest, a bit guilt-prone. Max is just more interesting. His view of the world is often clearer, even when it comes to Ruby. He's willing to make decisions that are perhaps morally dubious. He loves Italian food and the changes in the world are affecting his career more than Edgar's at this point....
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The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths

The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths

The Blood Card is the third in the series featuring DI Edgar Stephens and the magician Max Mephisto. This is a wonderful historical thriller located in the world of theatre variety shows and the gypsy community. It is the third in the series but the first I have read and it works very well as a standalone. It is set in the period leading to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. In London, Max is performing at the Theatre Royal, while in Brighton, Edgar is looking into the death of Madame Zabini, a fortune teller on the pier. Max and Edgar are summoned by General Petre who takes them to the murder scene of their old wartime commander, Colonel Peter Cartwright. There is a playing card left with the body, the Ace of Hearts, known in the theatrical community as the blood card. Petre asks them to look into the murder discreetly. Max and Edgar are horrified at...
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Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

Smoke and Mirrors, the second book in Elly Griffiths series featuring DI Stephens, and actor/magician Max Mephisto, is set in Brighton about a year after the events in the Zig Zag Girl, during the winter of 1951. Max and the Great Diablo are performing in a pantomime in town. These type of pantomimes seem to be a very British thing. It's a theater play that involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy, and in this case magic, and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story. They are usually produced around Christmas, I'm not sure why. When two young children go missing, and are later found dead in a snowbank surrounded by candies, DI Edgar Stephens, and his officers, Emma Holmes and Bob Willis, are tasked to investigate. With a frightened community demanding that the killer be found, and little evidence to go on, Stephens turns to his old friend Max for information after drawing a possible link to...
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The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

I've read a couple of Griffiths' other books and enjoyed them well enough. Honestly though, I picked up this series because of the magic connection. I love a good magician and here we have one helping solve crimes. When the head and legs of a young woman are discovered in two black cases at Brighton train station, the case falls to Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens. Then the woman's torso is sent to him at the department, addressed to him using his military rank, Captain. The state of the woman's body in the three boxes reminds Edgar of a magician's trick, known as the Zig Zag Girl, performed by an old army buddy, Max Mephisto. The two had served with a group known as the "Magic Men" who were tasked with setting up deceptions to make the Germans think that the east coast of Scotland was well defended. Edgar tracks down Max, now a popular theater magician. Edgar and Max believe the...
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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries is a contemporary mystery, but with the feel, and potential hauntings, of a gothic novel. Modern gothic novels don't always work for me, but the combo was flawless here. Clare Cassidy is an English teacher at Talgarth High; she is divorced and has a 15 year old daughter, Georgia. At the school, there is a building where R. M. Holland, a reclusive Victorian writer, lived. Clare is writing a biography of R. M. Holland and is interested in the death of his wife, Alice Avery, whose ghost haunts the school. Then, Clare's best friend and colleague, Ella Elphick, is found murdered with a note that is a quote from Holland's "The Stranger": "Hell is empty." The whole story is actually framed by Holland's creepy "The Stranger," with bits thrown in at just the right times. The Stranger Diaries is told from three female points of view, Clare, her daughter, and DS Harbinder Kaur, the lead investigator on the case....
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