I was so entranced by this book that whilst reading it on the bus I actually missed my stop!"
When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens finds himself thinking of a magic trick he saw as a boy: 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 Gang. 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, but Max is reluctant to leave his 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 danger...
If an author is going to write something different to their original series, then 'different' needs to be the operative word to avoid comparisons. Elly Griffiths, creator of the excellent Ruth Galloway series, has written a breath-taking new novel set in the 1950s featuring a brilliantly flawed detective and a sinister setting in the world of theatre and illusion.
'The Zig-Zag Girl' is inspired by real-life events from the author's own family history. Descriptions of magic, post-war Britain and life in the theatre are entertaining and give a great sense of place. The pace is fast and gripping. I love the world of magic and was hooked from the opening page. The murders are deliciously dark, and the underlying sense of evil is the perfect atmosphere as the cold winter nights draw in.
I was so entranced by this book that whilst reading it on the bus I actually missed my stop! An excellent novel is a good enough excuse to be late in my opinion.
Detective Inspector Stephens is sensitive, intelligent, and personable. Elly Griffiths has created yet another terrific character that can carry a gripping story without stealing the limelight and allowing the story, and subordinate characters, to develop naturally. It's this talent that shows Elly to be a leading voice in British crime writing.
I hope we see DI Stephens again. I'm sure Ms Griffiths is capable of juggling Galloway and Stephens. No pressure.