Stephens and Mephisto

I've been on a bit of a book roll lately, I seem to have hit good read after good read - it's always nice when that happens. I've already reviewed Elly Griffiths' The ghost fields on here, a gift from my crime-writing friend, Clare. Ghost fields is an excellent police procedural set in East Anglia, so when I saw another Elly Griffiths in the local library I hurriedly snapped it up, prepared for more of the same....The Zig-Zag girl turned out to be quite a surprise.

Unlike her Ruth Galloway series, Zig-Zag girl is the first in the Stephens and Mephisto series. I enjoyed Ghost Fields, but I unabashedly loved Zig-Zag girl, a classy police procedural set in 1950's Brighton, and featuring an assorted cast of characters from dogged Detective Inspector Stephens to his old army comrade, the variety hall illusionist, Max Mephisto, and their pal, the now not-so-Great Diablo. Stephens is drawn back into the world of magic when a former showgirl turns up dead sawn into three pieces in the classic zig-zag girl trick. As more deadly illusions are prepared, Stephens is forced to work again with his old colleagues before more of the "Magic Men" end up dead.

There's a wonderful atmosphere here. Griffiths expertly conjures up the slightly seedy world of Brighton in the 1950's, Brighton Rock about to meet Quadrophenia. Her characterisation is really strong too, I loved Stephens, Mephisto, Diablo, and Mephisto's assistant, Ruby, who proves to have an unexpected talent (No, I won't tell you what it is, you'll have to read it for yourself). I thought the ending was slightly disappointing, I wasn't entirely convinced by it, but to be honest I didn't really care. It was such an enjoyable read, it didn't really matter whodunnit. It's one of those books where the journey is every bit as important and enjoyable as the final destination, if not more so.

The second in the Stephens and Mephisto series is already marked up high on my Soon To Be Read list. It's a quirky, dark crime novel with a fantastic setting, definitely one to read.

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