Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Is it any wonder I enjoyed Under Lock & Skeleton Key? It's a locked room mystery, more or less, with delicious descriptions of food, multiple secret rooms and staircases, and even a family curse. Tempest comes from a magic family- even if none of them are currently performing. The family construction business does keep up the tradition though - it's all about creating hidden rooms, secret staircases, and the like. The misdirection theme runs throughout the book, almost too repetitively. The mystery itself is well done. The whodunnit didn't surprise me exactly and I was glad of a certain twist near the end. This is one of those books that's more about the how, which was actually pretty simple in the end, but I didn't put the pieces together. I like Tempest and her family. They are interesting and charming and feel real in their concerns. Her friends make a great team too and I hope we see more of...
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Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead

Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead

It's no surprise Death and the Conjuror caught my eye. It's set in London in 1936, the Golden Age as far as mysteries are concerned. It features a locked room mystery, something I've been reading a lot of lately, and our sleuth is a magician, which is a fun touch - after all, who would be a better person to solve the impossible? A psychologist seeing three rather unique patients is found dead in his locked study. Inspector George Flint is in charge of the case, but he knows he needs help and calls his friend, magician Joseph Spector. There are a fair number of suspects each with his or her own secrets. Actually, there are all around a lot of characters involved - the dead man's family and clients, the folks from the show Spector is helping put together, the cops obviously - and two mysteries, the murder and a stolen painting, taken from a locked chest in a locked...
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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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