counter create hit The Zig Zag Girl - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Zig Zag Girl

Availability: Ready to download

Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgars. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men. Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, 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 Men. 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, yet Max is reluctant to leave this 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…


Compare
Ads Banner

Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgars. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men. Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, 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 Men. 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, yet Max is reluctant to leave this 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…

30 review for The Zig Zag Girl

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Brighton, 1950, variety shows are on the way out, magic shows not as popular as they had been, television soon to make its appearance. After the war Edgar wanted to make a difference in people's lives so though he was expected to return to Oxford, he decided instead to become a policeman. When a body is delivered to the station in pieces, it becomes Inspector Edgar's case, a case that will bring him to Max Memphisto a famous magician and a man that Edgar served with in a secret unit called the Brighton, 1950, variety shows are on the way out, magic shows not as popular as they had been, television soon to make its appearance. After the war Edgar wanted to make a difference in people's lives so though he was expected to return to Oxford, he decided instead to become a policeman. When a body is delivered to the station in pieces, it becomes Inspector Edgar's case, a case that will bring him to Max Memphisto a famous magician and a man that Edgar served with in a secret unit called the Magic Men. The atmosphere of this novel is authentic and wonderful. So much about magic shows and the theater, even knowing that a magicians greatest friend is misdirection did not help me solve this case. I did have a few ideas but I guess I am just not clever enough. The characters are colorful, Max and Diablo alternately amusing or melancholy. Secrets from past, clues to follow left by the killer, murders done in ways mimicking magic acts, all leaving a trail, but remember red herrings and misdirection. The historical details are an additional bonus, all helping to immerse the reader in both this case and the time period. A brilliant start to what I hope is a new series, by Galloway.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: 'Looks as if someone's sliced her into three,' said Solomon Carter, the police surgeon, chattily. 'We're just missing the middle bit.' I must not be sick, thought Edgar Stephens. That's what he wants. Stay calm and professional at all times. You're the policeman after all. He looked down at the shape on the mortuary table. You couldn't really call it a body, he thought, almost dispassionately. It was more like one of those classical statues, head and shoulders only, hacked through just EXCERPT: 'Looks as if someone's sliced her into three,' said Solomon Carter, the police surgeon, chattily. 'We're just missing the middle bit.' I must not be sick, thought Edgar Stephens. That's what he wants. Stay calm and professional at all times. You're the policeman after all. He looked down at the shape on the mortuary table. You couldn't really call it a body, he thought, almost dispassionately. It was more like one of those classical statues, head and shoulders only, hacked through just above the breasts. The beauty of the face and the flowing blonde hair only heightened the sense of unreality. He could be looking at a model head in a milliner's shop. Apart from the clotting blood and decaying flesh, that is. Despite himself he felt his stomach heave. ABOUT THIS BOOK: Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, 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 Men. 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, yet Max is reluctant to leave this 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… MY THOUGHTS: This is the first in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by the author of the Ruth Galloway series, Elly Griffiths. I have previously read two other of the (currently) five books in the series. I am reading the entire series, in order, this year. As with all Griffiths writing, the atmosphere is incredibly authentic. Brighton Pier in all its gaudy glory, variety show theatre, the seedy boarding houses and blowsy landladies are all brilliantly portrayed. The reader wanders amongst them, fingers sticky from candy floss, eyes agog at the magician's tricks. Or that's how it felt to me.... And the mystery - because that's what we're all here for, isn't it? - is a beauty. I had several, and excuse the pun, stabs in the dark as to the identity of the murderer and never came close. In fact, the more I read, the more confounding the mystery became. The Zig Zag Girl is an excellent start to a wonderful series and comes highly recommended. 🔪🎭🔎🕵️‍♂️ THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton. DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths, narrated by Daniel Philpott and published by Quercus. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review and others are also published on Twitter and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I am part way through this author's other well known Ruth Galloway series but thought I would sample this series as well. I enjoyed this first book very much indeed. I liked the two main characters and feel that they will make an interesting if ill assorted team. The setting in Brighton, England in 1950 was well done. I am familiar with Brighton and Hove and as I read I could almost hear the seagulls and smell the sea. The mystery was suitably mysterious and the murderer was so unlikely as to be I am part way through this author's other well known Ruth Galloway series but thought I would sample this series as well. I enjoyed this first book very much indeed. I liked the two main characters and feel that they will make an interesting if ill assorted team. The setting in Brighton, England in 1950 was well done. I am familiar with Brighton and Hove and as I read I could almost hear the seagulls and smell the sea. The mystery was suitably mysterious and the murderer was so unlikely as to be impossible to guess. It was all very entertaining and I will certainly be continuing with the series.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The Zig Zag Girl is first in Elly Griffith's Stephens & Mephisto series. While I found it a very readable cosy mystery, I didn't think it was quite up to the high standard set by her Ruth Galloway series. Ed Stephens and Max Mephisto were both members of a special squad set up during WWII, tasked with setting up deceptions to make the Germans think that the east coast Scotland was well defended. While Ed was recruited as a lateral thinker (due to his ability with cryptic crosswords), the The Zig Zag Girl is first in Elly Griffith's Stephens & Mephisto series. While I found it a very readable cosy mystery, I didn't think it was quite up to the high standard set by her Ruth Galloway series. Ed Stephens and Max Mephisto were both members of a special squad set up during WWII, tasked with setting up deceptions to make the Germans think that the east coast Scotland was well defended. While Ed was recruited as a lateral thinker (due to his ability with cryptic crosswords), the other members of the squad were magicians and illusionists. They nicknamed the squad the Magic Men but were eventually disbanded when their commanding officer died in a horrific accident. Now, in the early 1950s, Ed is a police detective and Max has returned to working as a magician. When a young woman is found killed in a way reminiscent of one of Max's magic tricks, Ed wonders if the murder has a connection to the Magic Men. When the murdered woman is found to have a connection to Max, he ropes Max in to help him round up all the old squad. I enjoyed the depiction of all the English seaside towns where Max is booked for his show, with their seedy boarding houses and variety shows in run down theatres, however I didn't really get invested in the characters. Ed seems to be the only one assigned to investigate the murders and doesn't seem to have much of a clue right up to the point when the murderer reveals themselves and it's only because of one of the other old magic men that he isn't killed himself. While the 1950s might have been a sleepier time with no internet or forensics, I find it hard to believe that a single detective would be assigned to investigate multiple murders with only a friend to help. So if you like cosy mysteries, you might enjoy this series, but for now I think I'll stick to Ruth Galloway.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    I saw that book two is coming out now this fall and thought perhaps it was time to read the first book since I have had the ARC just around a year waiting for me to read. Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway series, a series I quite enjoy reading so I was curious to see how this new series would be. The new series takes place in the 1950s Brighton and Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens must solve a case of a murdered woman. The body has been cut in three bits and this reminds him of I saw that book two is coming out now this fall and thought perhaps it was time to read the first book since I have had the ARC just around a year waiting for me to read. Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway series, a series I quite enjoy reading so I was curious to see how this new series would be. The new series takes place in the 1950s Brighton and Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens must solve a case of a murdered woman. The body has been cut in three bits and this reminds him of the magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. He knows the inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, he is an old friend and they served together in the war in a shadow unit called Magic Men. But who would kill a girl and why? And, then another one is killed and now they must really find the killer before more people are killed. And, it seems that the people that are killed are connected to the Magic Men... It was interesting to read something other than Elly Griffiths usual series and I enjoyed a step back in time to the 50s just after the war with people that are trying to move on, but it has only been 5 years since it ended and the memories of it still linger over the country. For Edgar Stephens brings this case back memories of the war and the shadow unit he was in and the women he loved and lost. He hasn't really gotten over her and the way she died. And, now with the murder is he reunited with Max Mephisto, magician the man who invented the Zig Zag Girl. I just love magicians and I enjoyed the combination of a police and magician working together. I found the case interesting because of the group of magicians, not all of them were magicians, of course, Edgar wasn't one. But they were gathered together to create illusions to stupefy the enemy. And, now it seems that there is a murderer among them. But it was also not hard to figure things out, the story was good, but I found it too easy to figure things out. It lacked any real moments of surprises. I enjoyed reading it, it was a fine book and I want to read the next book. I just hope for a more intriguing plot. 3.5 stars Thanks to Quercus Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    I loved the title, cover and premise for The Zig Zag Girl, but was disappointed by the story itself. Ive liked Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series and given my taste for fiction set in the 1930s-1950s, interest in police procedurals and tales relating to the Second World War, I had high hopes for the book. However, the police procedural elements were unrealistic and the war-time aspects full of inaccuracies and fanciful ideas. For example, the case concerns a high profile set of murders, yet the I loved the title, cover and premise for The Zig Zag Girl, but was disappointed by the story itself. I’ve liked Elly Griffiths ‘Ruth Galloway’ series and given my taste for fiction set in the 1930s-1950s, interest in police procedurals and tales relating to the Second World War, I had high hopes for the book. However, the police procedural elements were unrealistic and the war-time aspects full of inaccuracies and fanciful ideas. For example, the case concerns a high profile set of murders, yet the only people actively investigating them are a bumbling cop and his magician friend rather than a sizable investigative team. Moreover, the police response to the threats is minimal, there are no meetings with media, and there is little senior management involvement. A junior WAAF officer who pushes aircraft round a board in a control room is somehow promoted to head up a whole secret service section. In Inverness the Magic Men build an aircraft carrier (called a battleship): somehow they can work on it to build it, but it is also so flimsy that a man can’t stand on it to send up a flare so they have to put a woman on it do that job (and she’s lowered on from an aircraft at a time when helicopters were extremely rare). She shoots the flare, it lands on the very long ship (a few hundred feet) and it catches fire and somehow she can’t get off before it burns out as she’s obviously incapable of jumping into the sea. The timeline of the war is foreshortened: a few months after the Norway campaign (1940) Edgar’s recruited into the secret service and sent to Inverness (p. 126); after two years there the company is disbanded and he works at a desk job for a couple of months waiting for the war to end (p. 271) -- somehow 3 years have disappeared. I could go on. Indeed, the plot in general relied on awkward plot devices and unlikely coincidences and the denouement was very weak. Further, the narrative had minor continuity errors (e.g., on page 44 Edgar watches Charis die, on page 152 he is told two days later she is dead because he wasn’t there). I don’t mind some fanciful details or logical inconsistencies in a story, but in this case there were just too many and the result was that I simply did not buy into the tale. Overall, whilst the premise is interesting, the execution and attention to detail is not and my feeling is the book lacked research and it really needed the attention of a critical editor with domain knowledge of policing and the Second World War to remove/amend the most fanciful bits.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    3.5 stars I have read the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths and as far as I'm concerned that series will be difficult to match. This book started up a bit slowly, but after a while, speed came in and it turned out to be a worthwhile read. Enough to read the next one in the series.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    2.5 stars. After enjoying the Ruth Galloway series so much I really expected to like this much more than I did. The first 3 quarters were a two star, towards the end I started to like the book and that part was 3 star. Set in the 1950s this book had characters that blended into each other so it seemed some time before I could tell who was who. There wasn't much detail about the era, I needed something to set the scene. If this wasn't read as a buddy read with Lisa Vegan I would have probably 2.5 stars. After enjoying the Ruth Galloway series so much I really expected to like this much more than I did. The first 3 quarters were a two star, towards the end I started to like the book and that part was 3 star. Set in the 1950s this book had characters that blended into each other so it seemed some time before I could tell who was who. There wasn't much detail about the era, I needed something to set the scene. If this wasn't read as a buddy read with Lisa Vegan I would have probably stopped reading. This murder mystery was set in Brighton and Great Yarmouth and was set in the entertainment world of magicians with a back story of WWII. Lisa guessed the culprit pretty early on. The ending was tied up neatly and explained but in some ways a little far fetched. Another reviewer pointed out a continuity mistake which has happened several times with this author. Looking back at the pages mentioned it does seem that the author says (view spoiler)[Max watches Charis die in one scene (p.44) and then later in the book says how he felt when he was told Charis had died. (hide spoiler)] Problems aside, towards the end of this book I did start to like the story and some of the characters, so although not desperate to read on I might try another in the series at some point. Until reading this book this author's work has never rated below 4 stars for me so I'm hoping some of this series might improve.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I thought this was an enjoyable, quick read in a fun time period and a fun setting - post WW2 in Brighton, and a body shows up in pieces. This leads to investigations of magicians and their assistants, a secret magic spy ring from the war, and pokey little British beach towns that still hire magicians and comedians. I notice many of the reviews mention that they tried this series after loving the author's previous series, the Ruth Galloway series, so I'll have to check them out.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kupersmith

    I was attracted to The Zig Zag Girl because a principal character, Max Mephisto, was based on a real English stage magician, Jasper Maskelyne, whod led a specialist unit during the Second World War creating illusory weapons to fool the enemy, such as papier-mâché tanks & wooden cannons. But this book is not just one historical mystery, but two. The main story is set in 1950, centring round Brighton. But theres also a backstory set some ten years earlier, featuring an army deception unit I was attracted to The Zig Zag Girl because a principal character, Max Mephisto, was based on a real English stage magician, Jasper Maskelyne, who’d led a specialist unit during the Second World War creating illusory weapons to fool the enemy, such as papier-mâché tanks & wooden cannons. But this book is not just one historical mystery, but two. The main story is set in 1950, centring round Brighton. But there’s also a backstory set some ten years earlier, featuring an army deception unit stationed in Scotland called The Magic Men. Someone is committing murders involving former Magic Men, murders using methods derived from stage-magic tricks. Max finds himself joined with an old comrade, now a Brighton police detective, in the quest to find the killer, chasing round seaside holiday pleasure piers & variety theatres. This is a big change for the author, who’d been specialising in a series featuring an academic forensic archaeologist, Ruth Galloway, set in Norfolk near King’s Lynn, one of my favourite towns. I think the author needed a change of scene & some new characters, but have mixed feelings about this one. Her recreation of the culture & mores of 1950 struck me as accurate & the allusions (such as to Milton Berle, whom even @ age eight I found intolerably unfunny) spot on. But the WWII story was simply impossible to square with historical fact. A GR reviewer, Ron Kitchin, has already pointed out some howlers. I’ll add that in the totally unlikely event that a British army unit (even one as oddball as this one turns out to have been) had been commanded by a WRAF, she’d have held the rank of flight officer, not captain. Reviews of Elly Griffiths’ The Ghost Fields have also pointed out a number of mistakes, so I hope she will have any future ventures into military history vetted by somebody who knows the stuff. Some readers said it was easy to spot the villain, but that was not true for me because the perpetrator & motives were too off the charts to imagine. They depended on wartime events that never would have occurred. But tho’ I care a lot less for English popular culture than British military history, I found the ‘50s story engaging & expect lots of us might well enjoy this new series, especially as an attractive new character & relationship is introduced. This was a good story; I wish it had rung true.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This book is a departure from the Ruth Galloway series and starts a new series. The main character is Edgar Stephens, currently a Detective Inspector, formerly a member of WWII's the Magic Men. When a case involves a victim who was cut into thirds ala a magic trick called The Zig Zag Girl, Edgar contacts Max Mephisto, a fellow member of the Magic Men who had invented the magic trick. This was an enjoyable book, but I think not of the same caliber as the Ruth Galloway books. This book didn't grab This book is a departure from the Ruth Galloway series and starts a new series. The main character is Edgar Stephens, currently a Detective Inspector, formerly a member of WWII's the Magic Men. When a case involves a victim who was cut into thirds ala a magic trick called The Zig Zag Girl, Edgar contacts Max Mephisto, a fellow member of the Magic Men who had invented the magic trick. This was an enjoyable book, but I think not of the same caliber as the Ruth Galloway books. This book didn't grab me, but took my hand and walked me inside. It took its time introducing the members of the Magic Men and how they'd fared since the war. It didn't race to the conclusion, but strolled along to reveal the who and why. There is a second book to this series, which I will read, but I don't know if it goes any further.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aditi

    "Illusion is the first of all pleasures." ----Oscar Wilde Elly Griffiths, an English author, have spin a thrilling tale of magic and illusions set in the post-WWII Britain in her new book, The Zig Zag Girl. This is her first book, after her very successful Dr Ruth Galloway series. Synopsis: Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of "Illusion is the first of all pleasures." ----Oscar Wilde Elly Griffiths, an English author, have spin a thrilling tale of magic and illusions set in the post-WWII Britain in her new book, The Zig Zag Girl. This is her first book, after her very successful Dr Ruth Galloway series. Synopsis: Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, 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 Men. 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, yet Max is reluctant to leave this 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. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to read Griffiths' successful and popular series of Dr. Ruth Galloway. So, I'm completely new to her writing style and hence I won't be the fair judge to comment on her writing style compared to her previous series. Well, to be fair, the opening line of the book was an intriguing and edgy one, that instantly peaked my interest- a girl cut in three! Yes, Edgar Stephens is the Detective who is in charge of "The Zig Zag Girl" case, a body of a women sliced into three halves among which two halves were found in a suitcase in the Brighton railway station and the middle half was personally delivered to the Detective, and the whole set-up reminded him of a magic trick invented by one of his friend. Max Mephisto, the infamous magician and Edgar's best buddy from the war days. They were a part of a secret service team where they used to build illusions to fool and trick the enemy into thinking that the Allies had more resources than was actually the case. Eventually, as the plot grew more mysterious and magical, the author took us to Edgar and Max's past days when they used to serve in the war, and when the body count increased rapidly, it became clear that their group was the only target in this case. The writing is pretty nice, but not extraordinary, in fact, the way the author have build the plot is not that compelling, especially the flashbacks- it seems whenever the author took us back into reality there was always some loose ends in the flashbacks, like something missing. The characters undoubtedly very strong and striking. And the mystery element was made intriguing by layering the plot with some major twists and turns. The author crafted Edgar's 50s style of modus operandi is brilliantly but at times the author intentionally filled her plot with some missing blanks to keep us anticipating till the end. The narrative is free-flowing but at times it became flat as the narration switched from the police investigation to Max's magic tricks. Edgar's character is pretty lonely and complicated and someone, whereas Max turns out to be the lively and most concerning character in the book. The climax or rather say the identity of the killer was very evident from the way the flashbacks were unfolding. So in a nutshell, it's an interesting read filled with lot of magic tricks and if you want to take a ride to the town of Brighton post world war two, then this the perfect book for you. Since from the dressing style to the civilian's life to the glam world to the streets to the cars, the author captured the 50s Brighton lively and vividly. Verdict: If you are a fan of mind-twisting crimes, then this is the perfect book for you. Courtesy: Thanks to the author Elly Griffiths and the publicity director of Quercus, for giving me an opportunity to read and review the book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Im a fan of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway novels so was really looking forward to diving into this one, a standalone novel inspired by her Grandfather. I loved it. Beautifully written to give a sense of the time, a terrific mystery story and a wonderful flow, plus some great characters made this a really really fun read. Edgar, Max and the so called Magic Men are a fascinating and eclectic bunch, brought back together by a strange murder that mimicks an old magic trick The Zig Zag Girl. As Edgar I’m a fan of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway novels so was really looking forward to diving into this one, a standalone novel inspired by her Grandfather. I loved it. Beautifully written to give a sense of the time, a terrific mystery story and a wonderful flow, plus some great characters made this a really really fun read. Edgar, Max and the so called “Magic Men” are a fascinating and eclectic bunch, brought back together by a strange murder that mimicks an old magic trick – The Zig Zag Girl. As Edgar investigates he looks to Max to help him work out what is going on and their friendship is rekindled. There was a delightful old school feel to the prose, very different from the Galloway novels – Christie-esque in style to suit the era, despite the violence it is quite a gentle read. in some ways and Ms Griffiths has caught the sense of the theatre community brilliantly. The glamorous and the less glamourous side merge to give a realistic feeling to it all, you can almost imagine yourself right there. The back story involving the Magic Men during the war is evocative and intriguing as well – and the mystery element is well imagined as the author brings the two strands together to paint a full picture. This is definitely one of my favourite mystery novels of the year so far, clever misdirection, a very enchanting look at the world of magic and a captivating and compelling story means that this definitely comes Highly Recommended from me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    Read as a buddy read with Hilary. I was not enthusiastic about the storys premise and wasnt even sure Id read the whole book, but I liked it much more than Id anticipated. Even so, without a reading partner it would have been harder to get through. Im not planning to read any additional books in this series now but I might read further books some point. I did like the book. For me it was 3 stars all the way through and I enjoyed it more and more as I read on. I thought the parts toward the end Read as a buddy read with Hilary. I was not enthusiastic about the story’s premise and wasn’t even sure I’d read the whole book, but I liked it much more than I’d anticipated. Even so, without a reading partner it would have been harder to get through. I’m not planning to read any additional books in this series now but I might read further books some point. I did like the book. For me it was 3 stars all the way through and I enjoyed it more and more as I read on. I thought the parts toward the end were stronger than those that came more toward the beginning. The characters were kind of hard to tell apart/remember for a long time. Hilary used the term “they blend in a bit” and that is a perfect way of describing it. As I read I did care about them and their stories but I didn’t feel emotionally invested in them the way I do with books I tend to love and really like, such as those in this author’s Ruth Galloway series. The last chapters I got more interested in them and I loved the twist about two of them and how they were related. I did guess the identity of the culprit and some of the reasoning, additional storyline about the murderer. They were my first choice from very early on. I was never sure though until close to the reveal. It was rather clever. I see how this series might go, 4 particular connected characters solving crimes. Maybe 5, or 6, or more. I know more minor characters might keep appearing in the books. HUGE spoiler! Do not read if you haven’t read this book 1 and might someday: (view spoiler)[ Edgar, Max, Diablo, and Ruby. Also maybe Bill, and the Major, and others. I love the Ruby-Max connection and the Ruby-Edgar relationship too. Rose and others too. I expect readers will see most of the remaining characters again. (hide spoiler)] ETA: I realized I missed not having any dog and cat characters. So far they've appeared in other books I've read by this author.

  15. 4 out of 5

    sue

    I am a bit late in coming to the table to read this one. But I am glad I got around finally to reading it, or should I say "listening" to it as I listened to it on Audio today. I was lucky enough to get this from Quercus Books via Net Galley, but seeing as I have it on audio I decided to listen to this today whilst doing other chores. We have Edgar, who is the DI. And Max the magician. Both of them know each other from a past that later comes to light as Edgar is reporting back to his Sergeant. I am a bit late in coming to the table to read this one. But I am glad I got around finally to reading it, or should I say "listening" to it as I listened to it on Audio today. I was lucky enough to get this from Quercus Books via Net Galley, but seeing as I have it on audio I decided to listen to this today whilst doing other chores. We have Edgar, who is the DI. And Max the magician. Both of them know each other from a past that later comes to light as Edgar is reporting back to his Sergeant. Its based around the seaside town of Brighton, where we are not far from Eastbourne and surrounding areas. So a resort where there are Theatre's and such and boarding homes where actresses and actors and those on the stage could be 'put up' for the duration of they're stay there while preforming. A body is found. But its an usual case because this body comes in three parts, and each is inside a box. These boxes remind Edgar of a trick, where they lay a person inside and they are split, then knives are put between the splits appearing that the person has been chopped into three parts. Except, this is no usual magicians trick box, the middle one that holds the torso is slightly bigger than the rest, what is the reason for this? Well, you will need to find out. The woman who is pretty in appearance even though dead..... who is she? Max the magician is not happy to be involved with the Police, but he is happy to chat to his old friend Edgar who wants to ask him questions. Edgar goes to a show, watches the 'turns' and then his friend Max preforms his 'turn'. After the show Edgar goes backstage, its not the brightest place to be, its dusty, its hectic, girls rushing around in their feathered costumes and it can appear to be manic. Then he spies his friend Max, so he and him share a whisky together. He is surprised that Max has a dressing room all to himself as others have to share, but Max is well known, and Max is not humble enough to keep quiet about that! Edgar fishes around and asks Max about some of the magic acts, at first Max isn't wanting to reveal anything. But then he does. One thought comes into Edgars mind, why hasn't Max got a female working for him in the act. It was a very interesting case unfolding as I read. You need to remember its around the turn of the 1950s when the TV is just about becoming popular and peoples tastes in being entertained are changing. This reminded me of an afternoon show, a whodunnit and why. Fast paced at first, halfway was good but did dip a little, however the ending was good and well worth keeping with. All in all, a very enjoyable plot and forward moving story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    Im sure many of you are familiar with Elly Griffiths other series featuring Ruth Galloway (So behind on that one as well. Ive only read four 🙈) but this one is very different. Id heard quite a lot about The Vanishing Box, the fourth book in this Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series but as always, I was compelled to start at the beginning. When the body of a young girl is found, DI Stephens is immediately reminded of a magic trick gone wrong. The girls body has been cut up into three pieces, just I’m sure many of you are familiar with Elly Griffiths’ other series featuring Ruth Galloway (So behind on that one as well. I’ve only read four 🙈) but this one is very different. I’d heard quite a lot about The Vanishing Box, the fourth book in this Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series but as always, I was compelled to start at the beginning. When the body of a young girl is found, DI Stephens is immediately reminded of a magic trick gone wrong. The girl’s body has been cut up into three pieces, just like the Zig Zag Girl trick. DI Stephens calls in the help of his old friend, Max Mephisto, with whom he served in the war. Max is a good old-fashioned magician who is still touring around the country from venue to venue in a world that’s constantly changing and where variety show entertainers may just be a dying breed. Max is reluctant to help until it turns out the dead girl was known to him. When another body turns up, Stephens and Mephisto become convinced that the answer is to be found in their army days. But can they stop the killer before they strike again? Set in 1950’s Brighton, The Zig Zag Girl is an incredibly original combination of police work with the intriguing world of magic and variety shows. Now, I did figure it out but that didn’t bother me at all. The atmosphere, the fantastic setting and the fabulously colourful and sometimes quirky characters had me completely enthralled. This cleverly plotted and addictive story had me utterly captivated and it’s such a delight to step away from the more modern crime fiction. DI Stephens doesn’t have access to all the fancy gadgets and resources that are around these days. No smartphones, no computers, no databases. All he has is his wit and his gut instinct and nobody bats an eyelid when he pulls in an amateur to help out with his investigation. I’m glad I have this in-built urge to start a series at the beginning, no matter how many books there are already. Granted, I don’t know how the other books progress but I feel I may not have connected to these characters the way I did if I had jumped right into book four. As it is, I’m left wanting more from both of them as I’m sure there is a lot more background to discover about Stephens and Mephisto. Elly Griffiths’ decision to tackle something completely different sure paid off. I enjoyed this historical mystery immensely and I can’t wait to find the time to get caught up on the rest of the series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex Cantone

    'Varietys on its last legs. When I was in the States (Tony) shot a sidelong glance at Max. Its was all about television. Have you heard of Milton Berle? Hes a comedian, a huge television star. Thats where the money is these daysbut magic would never work on television. People need to watch magicians up close. No youre finished, my friend. He lapsed into silence. Television will never take off in Britain, said Edgar. I cant imagine people gathered round one of those boxes watching fuzzy little 'Variety’s on its last legs. When I was in the States…’ (Tony) shot a sidelong glance at Max. ‘It’s was all about television. Have you heard of Milton Berle? He’s a comedian, a huge television star. That’s where the money is these days…but magic would never work on television. People need to watch magicians up close. No you’re finished, my friend.’ He lapsed into silence. ‘Television will never take off in Britain,’ said Edgar. ‘I can’t imagine people gathered round one of those boxes watching fuzzy little shapes. It’s not like the wireless.’ Set in 1950 in Brighton, England, the Zig Zag girl of the title is a former assistant of magician Max Mephisto. Her body, sawn in three, is left in two boxes at the railway station, the third delivered to the police station addressed to "Captain” Stephens – now DI Edgar Stephens. Stephens and Mephisto (real name Massingham) served together in the war in a secretive operation called “The Magic Men” based in Inverness, Scotland, with the intention of fooling the German High Command of an intended invasion of Norway. Another member of the group, Tony Mulholland, is also performing on the variety circuit as a comedian, and when Edgar finds his body in the wardrobe of his boarding house, stabbed with a sword, he and Max wonder if the group is being targeted. I had mixed views on this one. For much of the book Edgar is in turmoil over the loss of his wartime lover, Charis, and his brother (the favoured son) killed at Dunkirk, leading to a strained relationship with his mother. When a photograph of the Magic Men is delivered to Edgar at the police station, with Tony’s head crossed out, I found it unbelievable that Edgar did not immediately ask who the photographer was. I had the killer pegged half way through. Overall, not a bad read and I particularly liked descriptions of the mores of the times, but I would have liked to have seen more about the theatre and a diminishing way of life, and less driving across England in the police Wolsey or Max’s Bentley (without it seems needing to refuel) to track down other members of the group. That pleasure awaits in other books in the series, which I enjoyed more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    The Zig Zag Girl is the first book in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by British author, Elly Griffiths. Brighton, England, 1950: the young woman had been sawn in three; the parts, contained in black wooden boxes fastened with brass clips, were discovered in the Left Luggage room of the railway station. Witness descriptions are vague, but several aspects of the case cause DI Edgar Stephens, lead investigator, to travel to Eastbourne to seek out Max Mephisto, magician. Their association The Zig Zag Girl is the first book in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by British author, Elly Griffiths. Brighton, England, 1950: the young woman had been sawn in three; the parts, contained in black wooden boxes fastened with brass clips, were discovered in the Left Luggage room of the railway station. Witness descriptions are vague, but several aspects of the case cause DI Edgar Stephens, lead investigator, to travel to Eastbourne to seek out Max Mephisto, magician. Their association began in Inverness during the war, when they were part of a Secret Service team, the Magic Men, but a tragic event had seen the end of team, and their involvement . The resemblance to one of Max’s tricks, the Zig Zag Girl, is strong, but he cannot cast any light on the matter, even when he learns, to his shock, the identity of the victim. When Max’s engagements bring him to Brighton, another death staged as a magic trick leads him to team up with Edgar in an effort to find the killer. In keeping with the magic trick theme, Griffiths cleverly divides her novel into four parts, aptly titled: The Build-Up, Misdirection, Raising the Stakes and The Reveal. She uses two narrators, Edgar and Max, to convey different parts of the story as well as to give different perspectives on events. The immediate post-war era ensures the absence of mobile phones, internet, DNA and even many personal vehicles; thus the detective work relies on heavily on legwork, personal visits and intelligent deduction. Griffiths gives the reader characters that are real and flawed; some are vain and selfish; others distracted by misdirection and convinced by illusion. Her plot is clever and original and has a few twists that even the most astute reader may fail to anticipate. The atmosphere of post-war Britain is skilfully evoked with description, dialogue and the attitudes common at the time. This is an excellent murder mystery from the author of the Ruth Galloway crime novels, and fans will not be disappointed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dale Harcombe

    The body of a young woman cut in three, reminds DI Edgar Stephens of a magic trick called the Zig Zag girl. It also brings to mind his friend, the magician Max Mephisto, with whom he served during the war. The two of them were part of a secret unit called The Magic Men. Edgar seeks Maxs help in solving the crime. Max who is still performing on the variety show circuit and Max is initially reluctant but changes his mind when his former stage assistant is the victim. Another death also staged to The body of a young woman cut in three, reminds DI Edgar Stephens of a magic trick called the Zig Zag girl. It also brings to mind his friend, the magician Max Mephisto, with whom he served during the war. The two of them were part of a secret unit called The Magic Men. Edgar seeks Max’s help in solving the crime. Max who is still performing on the variety show circuit and Max is initially reluctant but changes his mind when his former stage assistant is the victim. Another death also staged to resemble a magic trick has both Edgar and Max keen to unmask the culprit. They start to suspect the answer lies back in the World War 2 army days and the association with the Magic Men. A letter warning of another trick places lives in danger. Can they find the murderer before the latest trap captures its victim? This is the second book I have read in this series. The other was book 3. It was interesting then to go back to the beginning and read this first one where Max and Edgar reconnect. I liked the contrast between Edgar and Max, as well as the inclusion and emphasis on magic tricks or illusions. I have enjoyed both the books in this series more than the few I have read in the Ruth Galloway series. Maybe it’s the magic connection that interests me? But I suspect I also like these characters more. From early on I had my thoughts about who the murderer was and despite some red herrings never deviated from it. Yes it was who I thought, so it’s always satisfying to be proved right. The fact that I guessed did not affect my enjoyment of the story at all The plot is cleverly handled. The characters are flawed but very human, each with their own individual quirks. I like the interplay between them. I also liked the Brighton setting and found the book to be an entertaining read that kept me turning the pages. I’d be keen to read more of this series and see how the interaction of the main characters develops.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    The Zig Zag girl by Elly Griffiths is the first in her new series DI Stephens & Max Mephisto I was intrigued at the beginning but it got a bit slow with all the character introductions there was to much hocus pocus & was very slow at times for me. I couldn't get into the characters at all not that I still didn't turn the pages but it just didn't do anything for me I have read a few Ruth Galloway books in Miss Griffiths other series I found much better not sure if I want to read the second The Zig Zag girl by Elly Griffiths is the first in her new series DI Stephens & Max Mephisto I was intrigued at the beginning but it got a bit slow with all the character introductions there was to much hocus pocus & was very slow at times for me. I couldn't get into the characters at all not that I still didn't turn the pages but it just didn't do anything for me I have read a few Ruth Galloway books in Miss Griffiths other series I found much better not sure if I want to read the second one in this series 3 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    Elly Griffiths popular Ruth Galloway series has been on my to-read list for sometime but I've been loathe to start a new series given my current reading commitments. I pounced then on the opportunity to read her first stand alone, The Zig Zag Girl. When the head and legs of a young woman are discovered in two black cases at Brighton train station, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens doesn't have to wait long to discover the whereabouts of her torso when a third box is delivered to him at work. Elly Griffiths popular Ruth Galloway series has been on my to-read list for sometime but I've been loathe to start a new series given my current reading commitments. I pounced then on the opportunity to read her first stand alone, The Zig Zag Girl. When the head and legs of a young woman are discovered in two black cases at Brighton train station, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens doesn't have to wait long to discover the whereabouts of her torso when a third box is delivered to him at work. Curiously the box is addressed using his military rank, Captain, and the state of the woman's body reminds Edgar of a magician's trick, known as the Zig Zag Girl, performed by an old army buddy, Max Mephisto. Assuming the coincidence is unlikely, especially when the girl is identified as Max's pre-war stage assistant, Edgar tracks down Max, a popular theater magician and then the rest of the men he served with, a group known as the 'Magic Men' - recruited for a top secret special assignment during World War II. After another death, another gruesome magic trick gone awry, Edgar realises that the Magic Men are being targeted and he must race to unmask the killer before they perform their final deadly trick. The Zig Zag Girl is set largely in Brighton, England during the 1950's and Griffiths skilfully evokes the post war era and the shabbiness of the neglected seaside town. Griffiths is said to have drawn on her own family history - her grandfather was a music hall comedian and her mother grew up 'backstage' - to authentically recreate the variety theater scene of the time. Edgar is a likeable character, a little reserved and weary but thoughtful and steadfast. Max is more flamboyant, befitting a magician, and the two make a good team. The world of the theater allows Griffiths to introduce some additional colourful characters, and the 'Magic Men' are a quirky lot too. The mystery is well thought out, using several red herrings to distract the reader from identifying the murderer too quickly. A little humour and a touch of romance lighten the more gruesome criminal elements of the story, and the background of the Magic Men provides added interest. A clever, entertaining mystery, I really enjoyed The Zig Zag Girl, I think I need to make room in my schedule for The Crossing Places sooner, rather than later.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I really enjoyed the setting and time period, just after WWII. It was interesting to learn about the tricks and illusions used by the Allies and Germany to trick them into thinking they had more men and weapons than they really did. A lot of readers thought the mystery was obvious so I feel like a big dumdum because I didnt see whodunnit! Pleasant enough read but I dont see myself continuing the series. I really enjoyed the setting and time period, just after WWII. It was interesting to learn about the tricks and illusions used by the Allies and Germany to trick them into thinking they had more men and weapons than they really did. A lot of readers thought the mystery was obvious so I feel like a big dumdum because I didn’t see whodunnit! Pleasant enough read but I don’t see myself continuing the series.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I really enjoyed the setting of this historical mystery. It's set in the British seaside town of Brighton in post World War II, and the main characters are a policeman and his wartime friend, a performing magician. We get a fascinating glimpse of the variety show world in the times when TV was just about to take over entertainment. That's what really helped to set this apart from other historical mysteries. I did have my suspicions about the murderer quite early on, but there was plenty of doubt I really enjoyed the setting of this historical mystery. It's set in the British seaside town of Brighton in post World War II, and the main characters are a policeman and his wartime friend, a performing magician. We get a fascinating glimpse of the variety show world in the times when TV was just about to take over entertainment. That's what really helped to set this apart from other historical mysteries. I did have my suspicions about the murderer quite early on, but there was plenty of doubt to keep me questioning, so the mystery was satisfying enough. I always find that it's being able to invest in the characters that really makes a mystery for me, and that was definitely the case here. I found myself growing quite attached to the policeman and his magician friend. Ultimately, I cared what was going to happen to them, and that's what will bring me back to the series again in the future.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    Last week I finished binge listening to (apart from the final book, which I read in book form) Griffiths Ruth Galloway series. And, knowing Ill have to wait at least another year for the next Ruth book, the obvious move was for me to try out her other popular series, the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series. The Zig Zag Girl starts out a little gruesome. Two pieces of a womans body are found and then the third piece is delivered to DI Edgar Stephens at the Brighton Police Station. The way the Last week I finished binge listening to (apart from the final book, which I read in book form) Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series. And, knowing I’ll have to wait at least another year for the next Ruth book, the obvious move was for me to try out her other popular series, the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series. The Zig Zag Girl starts out a little gruesome. Two pieces of a woman’s body are found and then the third piece is delivered to DI Edgar Stephens at the Brighton Police Station. The way the body is presented reminds Edgar of a magic trick and he elicits the help of his friend, the famous magician Max Mephisto. It’s 1950 and during the war, Edgar and Max had been part of a unit called the Magic Men. The Magic Men was basically a group of spies who used their stage skills to set up illusions which the British Army hoped would fool the Nazis into believing there were tanks and boats and army personnel in places there wasn’t. I love this time period. It was such an interesting period of history where the war really was affecting everyone across the globe and so many men and women were obviously suffering PTSD. There’s so much potential for a writer and I thought Griffiths did a great job of utilising the PTSD of the characters without making it inappropriate in today's world. The method the murderer used was original and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book, despite my squeamishness about it at times. I did think the identity of the killer was pretty obvious early on but I couldn’t even be disappointed by this as Griffiths threw in a couple of other twists that I didn't see coming. In fact, I think the reader was meant to guess the killer and these other couple of reveals were the actual gasp-out-loud moments. I always read the Ruth books for the characters more than the mystery plot, however. Happily, I fell instantly in love with Edgar. He was the perfect rumpled policeman, with quiet ways but obviously intelligent and solid and loyal to his friends and country. His almost naive and unassuming personality was a perfect contrast for the more world-weary and confident to the point of arrogant, Max. As in the Ruth series, Griffiths introduces quite a few supporting characters. The other magic men, obviously, were used including the handsome Bill and his wife, Jean, the brash and annoying Tony, their commanding officer, Major Gormley, and the ageing and usually drunk Great Diablo (I’ve already cast Sir Ian McKellen as this character in my mind!). I thought I might be disappointed by the lack of romance in this book. I love the romantic aspect of the Ruth books, after all. I thought The Zig Zag Girl was pretty much perfect with just the tiniest hint of romance Griffiths gave us though. Accustomed as I am to Ruth’s saltmarsh, Griffith’s place setting was surprisingly just as impressive as Norfolk--this time, Brighton and surrounds. I also enjoyed the descriptive passages for the world of live variety shows. The acts mentioned throughout (including magic and comedy and dancing and acrobats) were colourful and fun but also sad, knowing that most of the performers would have needed to diversify significantly with the introduction of tv. As usual, there’s something about Griffiths’ writing that draws me in to her books. I’m already invested in the fate of these characters. Adding a 5 out of 5 rating to The Zig Zag Girl and immediately am off to buy book two.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Raven

    I always think its a brave decision by an established series author such as Griffiths with her hugely popular Ruth Galloway novels, to step outside of the familiar and tackle a standalone (or opener to a possible new series). I had similar fears with Belinda Bauer, on the publication of Rubbernecker, but Griffiths like Bauer has succeeded admirably in my opinion. Having said that, I would partly put my enjoyment of The Zig Zag Girl down to my own fascination with the world of magic, particularly I always think it’s a brave decision by an established series author such as Griffiths with her hugely popular Ruth Galloway novels, to step outside of the familiar and tackle a standalone (or opener to a possible new series). I had similar fears with Belinda Bauer, on the publication of Rubbernecker, but Griffiths like Bauer has succeeded admirably in my opinion. Having said that, I would partly put my enjoyment of The Zig Zag Girl down to my own fascination with the world of magic, particularly of this period and earlier, so many of the little nods and references to magic resonated very well with me- Hugh D. Nee indeed! However, where I think Griffiths succeeds so well in this book, is the underlying sense of fun that she seems to be having, and that we can participate in, along the way. There are a host of great little comic interludes and one-liners, that add another dimension to what is essentially a more graphic and souped-up classic Golden Age mystery, including the trusty use of tea cup and poison, transported into 1950’s Brighton. The unerring sense of darkness, and the slight seediness and desperation of the world which Max in particular resides in, is set against the lighter comic tone with great effect, reminding me strongly of the brilliant Bryant & May mysteries by Christopher Fowler. Add into the plot the pivoting timeline, charting the beginnings of the less confident Edgar’s and uber confident Max’s friendship, with their undercover and top secret wartime mission, and The Zig Zag Girl, draws us into its own little illusionist’s trick where nothing is quite as it appears… I am a self confessed fan of Griffiths, and what I enjoy most about her writing is her characterisation, and this book does not disappoint. Every character is incredibly well-delineated, no matter how small or large part they play in the plot. I’ve already identified the essential difference between policeman Edgar and showman Max in terms of confidence, but it’s incredibly interesting to see how this chalk-and-cheese combo, and their understated loyalty to each other, join forces to catch a killer. Likewise, the character of Mulholland is joyous- in common parlance he would be a total **** – and I enjoyed the acerbic mocking by Max of Mulholland’s purported mesmerist skills and comic talent. He has none. There is also a wonderfully credible female character with Ruby, harbouring designs on being a world famous female magician in her own right, who enthrals Edgar, but strangely manages to resist the obvious appeal of the suave and cool Max. These characters draw you in completely, and I genuinely cared about the peril each faces as the story unfolds. So in conclusion, I was rather keen on The Zig Zag Girl, with its terrific blend of light and dark mood, the strength of the characters, the use of the shabby seaside locations, and the careful balance of historic period detail. All in all it’s fun, a jolly good murder mystery, with a few unexpected shocks along the way to jolt the reader. Magic…

  26. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    First Sentence: Looks as if someones sliced her into three, said Solomon Carter, the police surgeon, chattily. Two thirds of a female body have been found; the head and the legs. Having been a member of The Magic Men, a Secret Service team of which he had been part during WWII, leads Edgar to reconnect with fellow member, Max Mephisto, especially after the shocking identify of the victim has been learned. A letter delivered to Edgar with the name of another magic trick, and another death, First Sentence: “Looks as if someone’s sliced her into three,” said Solomon Carter, the police surgeon, chattily. Two thirds of a female body have been found; the head and the legs. Having been a member of “The Magic Men,” a Secret Service team of which he had been part during WWII, leads Edgar to reconnect with fellow member, Max Mephisto, especially after the shocking identify of the victim has been learned. A letter delivered to Edgar with the name of another magic trick, and another death, focuses him, with Max’s help, to find the rest of their old team…and the killer. It is always interesting to learn the “how” behind magic tricks. And to consider the existence of a team of magicians, each with their own special skill, is particularly intriguing. In addition to Edgar, Griffith’s employs an effective segue to the past, informing us of the significant player, their skills and how they fit together. It is interesting that she chooses to insert this later in the story, but no less effective for so doing. Griffiths has truly captured the feeling of stagecraft and the world behind the theater curtain. Although it is universal of all cultures, books set in the UK seem often to utilize the theme of a suspicion of forgiveness and hope of the perpetrator of violent crime being a foreigner. This is quite understandable being this soon after the War, but it need also be remembered that this was a time when people doubted television would ever succeed, thus limiting the exposure to those beyond their shores. On the other hand, the Brits seem to have an ongoing regard for the old beliefs, including an acceptance of ghosts.”Naturally, the police station had its resident ghosts. The site was once a medieval monastery…and it was said that sometimes a monk could be seen moving casually through the thick stone walls of the basement.” But fear not, although this is anything but a paranormal mystery. Such injections do add to the sense of theatrically. One can appreciate Griffith’s wry humour—“Max had a sudden vision of the Titanic tilting into the sea while the orchestra (hopefully in better tune than this one) played on.”—and her very visual descriptions—“He strolled through the picnicking families like Moses crossing the Red Sea. Moses in Italian shoes.” “The Zig Zag Girl” very effectively and steadily builds the suspense and tension, throwing in an excellent twist, with another twist upon that, and another upon that. Well done, Ms. Griffiths on a very good start to a new series. THE ZIG-ZAG GIRL (Pol Proc-Det. Edgar Stephens- England – early 1950s) – VG Griffiths, Elly – 1st in series Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - Sept 2015

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This book was nominated for the 2014 top Mystery & Thriller Goodreads award. The book started at a very quick pace and I started to enjoy it straight away. However I didn't feel that the novel delivered after such a strong start and the plot and characters didn't develop. By the end of the book I was still not convinced and had a feeling of apathy to who the killer was and why. I had been really looking forward to reading this book and maybe I had built it up too much.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    4.5 star read I am a big fan of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series. Also, read the Stranger's Diaries (standalone) and gave it a 5 star review. I ordered The Zig Zag Girl in 2015 and just read it now in Jan. 2020. Why did I wait when the author is perhaps my favorite author. I think I misperceived when I read the MCs were the magic men. I didn't have an interest to read about magicians. Also, many early reviews stated they preferred the Ruth Galloway series. I wanted to read it but didn't feel 4.5 star read I am a big fan of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series. Also, read the Stranger's Diaries (standalone) and gave it a 5 star review. I ordered The Zig Zag Girl in 2015 and just read it now in Jan. 2020. Why did I wait when the author is perhaps my favorite author. I think I misperceived when I read the MCs were the magic men. I didn't have an interest to read about magicians. Also, many early reviews stated they preferred the Ruth Galloway series. I wanted to read it but didn't feel the desire to do it right now. I was wrong. I just read it and liked it very much. Yes, it was about a group of men who the service put into a group to camouflage and deceive the German pilots as they flew over British bases. The story picked up after the war and someone is threatening this group of men or people associated with them. The reader goes to the seaside towns and into the run down somewhat seedy theaters presenting the variety or vaudeville acts. It is dying out and what will become of the performers? TV is starting to develop. The plot or mystery is very good. The characters (always a strength of Elly Griffiths) are interesting as is the location. I debated whether to make my review a 4 or a 5 star review as I enjoyed it very much. I always think though, if I have to debate about it, it is a 4 star read. Now I have 4 unread books in the series to look forward to reading. I have the the 2nd one in my TBR kindle group. (since 2017)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Based on the cover, title, and synopsis, I was expecting an entirely different book. I was hoping for a bit of fun. A witty caper with eccentric, flamboyant characters. What I got was a somewhat drab procedural about depressed pessimists. Then there's a ridiculous climax that does offer some pulp cliffhanger thrills, which were enjoyable but seemed out of place. Either too little too late, or too goofy given the tone of the rest of the novel. It's not a bad book, but it was a disappointment .

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Got this one right!!! :)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.