I’ve been enjoying Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series, so I thought I’d give her Brighton series a try. This first novel takes place in 1950.
Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens has always felt a little self-conscious about part of his war work. After helping the Finnish army, he was part of a group of illusionists called the Magic Men, whose job was to fool the Germans that Scotland was well defended. After a disastrous accident in which their commanding officer, Charis, was killed, they were disbanded. Edgar had been in love with Charis.
Edgar’s best friend in the service was Max Mephisto, a well-known magician. Although Edgar hasn’t seen Max since the Magic Men were disbanded, the murder of a young woman reminds him of Max. She has been cut in three, like the illusion of the Zig Zag Girl, which Max created. Edgar consults with Max, who is still working the magic circuit, and his old army group members begin showing up. There is Diablo, an old magician who spends most of his time drinking; Bill, the carpenter who constructed the illusions; and Tony Mullholland, a magician whom no one much liked.
But before the rest of these characters reappear, Max recognizes the murder victim as Ethel, his assistant who left the act to get married. When Tony Mullholland is also killed, Edgar begins to believe that the crimes are connected somehow to the Magic Men.
Although I feel I need to get to know Edgar better and he didn’t really figure out much in this case, the series promises to provide more entertainment. Max is an interesting character, and I’m curious how he’ll be brought into the upcoming mysteries.