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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Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien

Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien

This is the third installment in the Noodle Shop Mystery series. Lana Lee is now managing her family's restaurant in the Asia Village plaza, but of course nothing's ever quiet in her life. There's a noodle competition taking place and Peter, the chef at Ho-Lee Noodle House is one of the competitors. Then one of the judges is killed and Lana and Megan decide they need to investigate, after all they have experience now. The mystery was well-done. The first victim had several enemies, he was a bit of a jerk. But when a second judge is killed, it becomes more confusing. Lana's questioning at times becomes a bit pushy in this one, and I got a little tired of everyone telling her she should keep out of it, as if she didn't know it already. Amateur detectives know they should leave it up to the cops, but just can't. And she has a bad habit of getting caught alone...
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Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien

Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien

First off, I love the covers of the Noodle Shop Mysteries. I'm not usually much of a cover person, but these just look delicious, are bright, have a bit of humor, I think, with the soy sauce (?) pouring into the skull shape. Dim Sum of All Fears is the second in the series. It could probably be read as a stand-alone, but I'm glad I read the first beforehand. It gives you a better picture of the family relationships and the people at the Asia Village shopping center. This time around, a good, if new, friend of Lana's has been murdered, along with her husband. Turns out there was a lot Lana didn't know about the couple, but still wants to see the killer brought to justice. Since their success in solving the last crime, she and her roommate, Megan, decide that they need to do some digging around. There are several suspects, turns out the husband was not only...
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Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Death by Dumpling has been sitting on my Kindle for longer than I'd like to admit. I know why I picked it up originally. The cover is great, it's set in Cleveland, and it sounds like a fun mystery. I am so happy I finally got around to reading it. Lana is just quirky enough. She's a bit down on her luck and has been moping around her apartment a little too much, but there's nothing like being a potential murder suspect to get you out of the house again, at least if you've decided you need to solve the case before you or a friend is found guilty. The Ho-Lee Noodle House is in an Asian-themed shopping center. They're are plenty of regulars at the restaurant and most of the staff at the various shops all seem to know each other. It's like a little community, and a lot of the folks are connected, friends, family, so when one of...
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