I remember being in my local bookstore, needing a book for a trip that I was taking, somewhat last-minute, and this book caught my eye. A mystery…good. Historical (World War II) references … good. Magicians … great! And fortunately the book lived up to my expectations.
It is 1950 in Brighton and Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is called to a murder scene. The body of a girl is found, cut into three pieces. Stephens has reason to believe that the murder is a violent copy of a magician’s trick called The Zig Zag Girl. The trick was created by an old friend of Stephens’, Max Mephisto. During the war, Stephens and Mephisto served together in a special operatives group known as The Magic Men. Now Max Mephisto is on tour with his magic show and doesn’t want to get involved in the investigation, but Stephens thinks Max might know the girl – it takes a special talent to perform the Zig Zag Girl and not many women could pull it off. As it turns out, the girl was Ethel, the best assistant Max ever had. When a warning comes that there will be another murder in the style of another magician’s trick, The Wolf Trap, Detective Inspector Stephens believes one of his old war comrades is the killer.
I really enjoyed the characters of Stephens and Mephisto and the idea of the Magic Men unit. Some of the descriptions of tricks used during the war to confuse the enemy (the purpose of the unit) didn’t strike me as terribly authentic or realistic – though I still really like the idea.
The mystery is clever, though not particularly deep. The reason to read this is the basic concept of the war buddies who worked as magicians.
This is a good start and I look forward to more in the series, though I hope they will get a little more in-depth with the mystery aspect.
Looking for a good book? The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths is the first book in a new mystery series that holds a great deal of promise.
I purchased this book at my local book chain.
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The Zig Zag Girl
author: Elly Griffiths
series: Stephens and Mephisto Mystery #1
publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
hardcover, 336 pages