One ofEntertainment Weekly's 10 Great Fall Thrillers"Clever, immensely likeable...Captivating." —The Wall Street Journal
In the first installment of a compelling new series by Elly Griffiths featuring Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and the magnificent Max Mephisto, a band of magicians who served together in World War II track a killer who’s performing their deadly tricks.
Brighton, 1950. The body of a girl is found cut into three pieces. Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is convinced the killer is mimicking a famous magic trick—the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old war friend of Edgar’s. They served together in a shadowy unit called the Magic Men, a special ops troop that used stage tricks to confound the enemy.
Max is on the traveling show circuit, touring seaside towns with ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. He’s reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate, but advises him to identify the victim quickly — it takes a special sidekick to do the Zig Zag Girl. Those words come back to haunt Max when the dead girl turns out to be Ethel, one of his best assistants to date. He’s soon at Edgar’s side, hunting for Ethel’s killer.
Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max are sure the answer to the murders lies in their army days. And when Edgar receives a letter warning of another “trick” on the way — the Wolf Trap — he knows they’re all in the killer’s sights.
One ofEntertainment Weekly's 10 Great Fall Thrillers
"Clever, immensely likeable...Captivating...The Zig Zag Girl is old-fashioned in the best ways." —The Wall Street Journal
“With a labyrinthine plot, a splendid reveal and superb evocation of the wafer-thin veneer of glamour at the bottom end of showbusiness, this is thoroughly enjoyable.” —The Guardian’s “Best Crime Novels Round-Up”
"With her cast of quirky characters, her excellent plotting, and a twist that readers won't see coming, readers will finish looking forward to the next trick up [Griffiths's] sleeve." —Mystery Scene
“An interesting change of direction for the talented Griffiths…Enormously engaging…Post-war Brighton, and its Theatre Royal are beautifully captured in all their seedy glory, and Griffiths’ plot is satisfyingly serpentine…Subtle, charming and very good indeed.” —The Daily Mail
“A colourful crowd of ventriloquists and sword-swallowers, a world lovingly re-created in this original, lively and gripping work.” —The Independent
“Elly Griffiths’ compelling novelThe Zig Zag Girl takes readers on a wild ride full of mayhem, magic, and murder… Griffiths expertly weaves together Edgar’s past and present into one fascinating mystery that will have readers hooked from the very start… Capturing both the vibrant qualities of the theater community while also expertly capturing its dark side, Griffiths creates a world where nothing is as it truly appears to be.” —The Absolute
“One to look forward to.” —BookPage
"Griffiths weaves a compelling tale rich with historical detail and a cast of eccentric characters." —Kirkus
"Griffiths’s ability to imbue atmosphere and create fascinating characters continues to make her an author every mystery lover should be reading. Lacking the usual forensics and druids of her previous series, this title may especially appeal to cozy and historical mystery fans." —Library Journal
"Engaging...The portrayal of the backstage life and the onstage performances of illusionists forms a fascinating backdrop to the main action. Brief flashbacks to the Magic Men’s wartime missions provide an equally gripping backstory. As the plot deepens, Griffiths’s tone darkens, leading to a series of surprise twists. Readers will look forward to seeing a lot more of Max and company." —Publishers Weekly