The Zig Zag Girl – Elly Griffiths

If you like your murder mysteries with a bit of prestidigitation, then Elly Griffiths’ The Zig Zag Girl is the book for you! Spoiler alert, though, the killer uses classic illusions as their weapon, so the reader finds out the secrets behind the tricks long before they find out “whodunnit!”
Edgar Stephens is a former member of MI5’s shadowy unit charged with deceived the enemy into believing the British military was more prepared than they actually were. He is now a police detective who finds himself thrown back into his own history as he investigates alongside Max Mephisto, another of the Magic Men.
Set in the post-war England of the 1950s, The Zig Zag Girl is intriguing on many levels and hopefully the first of another successful series for Ms. Griffiths, author of the Ruth Galloway novels centered on archaeology. – Schlow Centre Region Library

One of Entertainment 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.