The Zig Zag Girl
By Elly Griffiths
Published by Quercus Books (30 October 2014)
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 the killer's sights...
I received this as an Advance Reader Copy through NetGalley.
I have read the first book in Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway series, but this standalone novel is completely different in its subject and approach.
The Zig Zag Girl is set in the 1950s, focusing on a group of magicians and illusionists who tour seaside towns. This particular group served together in the war. The book reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel, with its well-written prose and gentle murder mystery approach. Around halfway through the book, I guessed the identity of the killer and what the twist would be. But this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, The Zig Zag Girl was an enjoyable read. There was some humour and romance thrown in, although I would have liked more action. I felt that some characters (e.g. Edgar) didn't seem to have enough depth to them and came across as a little dull. I also couldn't understand why Edgar appeared to investigating such major crimes on his own (with the help of his magician friend), rather than with a whole cohort of other policemen.