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" --
Publisher: New York, NY : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, c2014.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9780544527942
Characteristics: 328 pages ; 22 cm.


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May 03, 2019

I decided to read this book after a dear friend of mine, an actress and a singer, strongly recommended it. I have to say, I was not disappointed. The story is macabre (you will see why if you read it) and the characters unusual: a magician helping out a policemen? Magic tricks used to murder people? Interesting! I will not say more because I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone, but I can say that it is a gripping story, really hard to put down. However, with all my admiration and my desire to read the other books in the series, I have to say one thing. Unfortunately, I understood who the killer was too early and that took away a bit of the fun, to be honest. I understood because I read aloud a name and I connected with a real magician of the past. Enough said. Be ready to be shocked and entertained!

Sppl_emily Mar 27, 2019

I am a big Elly Griffiths fan and enjoy starting a new series with new characters. Post WW2 Brighton is not an area I am particularly familiar with, so it is fun to be introduced to a new place and time. After just reading the first book of the series, I am wondering how she can continue the "magic men" theme, but I trust she'll do a great job.

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.

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