Elly Griffiths writes one of my favourite series - the Ruth Galloway mysteries. Having devoured the last one, I was resigned to a least another year 'til the next. And then....I discovered that she has started another series! The Zig Zag Girl is the first in the Magic Men Mysteries.
Post WWII England in 1950 is the setting. Detective Edgar Stephens is assigned to a horrific crime. A young woman's body is delivered to the station - in three pieces in three boxes. And Stephens can't help but be reminded of a magic trick - The Zig Zag Girl. Now, why would he be reminded of that? Well, Stephens was part of a covert team during the war that used tricks and deception to discombobulate the 'Jerrys".
Stephens has kept his distance from the unit in the years following the war. But this murder and his investigation inevitably reunite him with the Magic Men. Notably Max Mephisto - the inventor of the Zig Zag Girl trick.
What I absolutely love about Griffith's books are her characters. They're appealing, unusual and engaging. Each has a rich background and personality - I liked them immediately and look forward to seeing them again. Edgar and Max each have a voice in the Zig Zag Girl, so we get a view from each of their perspectives.
What I also liked was that the mystery has to be solved the 'old fashioned way' - without the use of cell phones, computer databases and modern technology. Instead we're along for the ride as Stephens and Mephisto follow the clues and connections, making their own deductions.
Griffiths uses misdirection, one of a magician's tricks, to keep the mystery going, sending the reader's suspicions in the wrong direction. (But clever readers will suss it out) The setting is fascinating - the world of variety shows and magicians was fun and full of detail.
The Zig Zag Girl was a great introduction to a new set of characters - this reader will be looking for the second in this series. (But Ruth is still my favourite!) Read an excerpt of The Zig Zag Girl.
And the inspiration for this new series? There truly was a group of camouflage experts in WWII called the Magic Gang. And Griffith's grandfather also was on the variety circuit as a comedian. You can connect with Elly Griffiths on Twitter.