The Zig Zag Girl

The Zig Zag Girl

Book - 2015
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"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" -- provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, 2015
Edition: First U.S. edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780544527942
Characteristics: 328 pages ; 22 cm


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Aug 18, 2017

Decent mystery book.

Jul 24, 2017

A new series with new characters. There seems to be considerable effort on the author's part to convince us she has done enough research on the post war era to write a legitimate historical novel. Sadly, it is not the quality one expects in literature. It is however a good story and a book worth reading. The characters are fairly interesting, and their murder case and history are gruesome enough for most armchair sleuths. It is always interesting to read a book by a woman who grew up in times of peace trying to create male characters who have survived traumatic war injuries; usually no more successfully than white male writers trying to write authentic female characters of color.

Jul 25, 2016

I am not a fan of magic but this storyline was okay. It was more about the characters and their personal histories. It was a mystery that was slow to unfold and fairly enjoyable. I realize I am damning this with faint praise but I just had a hard time appreciating the magic here - no pun intended.

Jul 02, 2016

I enjoyed reading this mystery set in Brighton, England in 1950. The role of magic in the story and how it related to the characters was particularly interesting. I did guess the perpetrator about 3/4 of the way through the book, but I didn't think that the motivation for the crimes was well explained. Also I didn't like the number of rhetorical questions that the author used. There is certainly a place for such a literary device, but I felt that it was overused. I did like the characters, especially Max and Edgar, but I'm not sure that I will read any more books in this series. I may try one of the author's other books, though.

samdog123 Jun 15, 2016

Elly Griffiths writes the Ruth Galloway mystery series--one of my favourites. The book is the first in a new series 'A Magic Men Mystery' which takes place amongst a group of retired WWII soldiers. When Detective Inspector Edgar Stevens finds the corpse of a murdered woman, a victim of the 'zig zag girl' magic trick, he must visit his old mates to find out what's what. Good character development done with some emotion, which I would expect from this author. Looking forward to the next in the series!

multcolib_karene Nov 10, 2015

An entertaining mystery that has an interesting backstory (magicians during World War II?!) and quite interesting characters.

Nov 04, 2015

Elly Griffiths new series is off to an excellent start! Filling in the background for the characters who will likely populate the following books gives us the clues to find the killer. The solution has some interesting surprises, and the setting gives a true picture of life backstage, as well as British life after WWII. She's done her historical homework. I'm looking forward to the next installment to see how Griffiths makes a team of this disparate group, or if D. I. Edgar Stephens will be the point man, calling on his friends when needed. So far the narrators are Edgar and Max. Will this change? There are several other peripheral characters who may be pulled in for their unique talents.

coroboreefarm Oct 27, 2015

I picked this book up with trepidation, knowing that my favourite author, Elly Griffiths, was not going to be writing about my favourite character, Ruth Galloway, the somewhat overweight, single mother and forensic archeologist who often engages her expertise to help solve mysteries in modern day Norfolk.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Zig Zag Girl, although set in another time and place was an equally engaging mystery.

Elly Griffiths introduces us to D.I. Edgar Stephens of the Brighton Constabulary, and his old WW2 buddy Max Mephisto. Both had been members of a secret Special Ops unit called the Magic Men, who employed their knowledge of stage craft to trick the enemy. In the featured case, the corpse of a young girl had been dismembered in a way reminiscent of an old illusion of Max Mephisto, before being delivered to DI Stephens. Hence, the reunion of the two old pals, in post war Brighton.
Peppered with colourful characters, and effectively using interesting historical details, this entertaining novel is a good read, and a promising start to a new series by this popular British crime writer.

Sep 12, 2015

Tom Nolan wsj sep 12-13, 2015

Apr 04, 2015

I am a huge fan of Elly Griffiths' 'Ruth Galloway' series so I was looking forward to reading this novel. I will not say that I was disappointed by this book but I don't think it is as good as the Galloway books. The characters were actual quite interesting, as was the setting(Brighton) but the novel did plod along without too many twists and turns, and I thought the culprit was a little obvious. A grisly murder in Brighton (1950) forces the police chief to search out members of his special ops team from WW2 because he is convinced that there is a connection. The cast is largely composed of show biz types that make their living playing variety theater from one seaside town to the next, and many are looking over their shoulder at this upstart called television and wondering how much longer their way of life can exist. One of the best charters is Max Mephesto - A brilliant magician and the son of a titled man. This may have potential as a series if the author works on her plot. ( and we already know she can write superb plots)


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