The Zig Zag Girl (Magic Men Series #1)

The Zig Zag Girl (Magic Men Series #1)

by Elly Griffiths


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The Zig Zag Girl (Magic Men Series #1) by Elly Griffiths

“Captivating.” —Wall Street Journal

“An absorbing read, the debut of another great series.” —San Jose Mercury News
“A labyrinthine plot, a splendid reveal, and superb evocation of the wafer-thin veneer of glamour at the bottom end of showbusiness . . . Thoroughly enjoyable.” —Guardian

Brighton, 1950. A girl is found cut in three, and 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, served with Edgar in a special ops troop called the Magic Men that used stage illusions to confound the enemy. Max still performs, touring with ventriloquists, sword-swallowers, and dancing girls. When Edgar asks for his help with the case, Max tells him to identify the victim quickly; it takes a special sidekick to do the Zig Zag Girl—words that haunt Max when he learns the dead girl is Ethel, one of his best assistants to date.
Another death, another magic trick, and still no killer. But when Edgar receives a letter warning of another “trick” on the way—the Wolf Trap—he knows the Magic Men are in the killer’s sights.
“Enormously engaging . . . Griffiths’s plot is satisfyingly serpentine.” —Daily Mail
“Readers will finish looking forward to the next trick up [Griffiths’s] sleeve.” —Mystery Scene

Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series. She is the recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award and her work has been praised as “gripping” (Louise Penny), “highly atmospheric” (New York Times Book Review), and “must-reads for fans of crime fiction” (Associated Press).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544811874
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Series: Magic Men Mystery Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 158,514
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)

About the Author

ELLY GRIFFITHS is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series. She is the recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the CWA Dagger in the Library Award, and her work has been praised as “gripping” (Louise Penny), “captivating,” (Wall Street Journal) and “must-reads for fans of crime fiction” (Associated Press). She lives in Brighton, England.

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The Zig Zag Girl 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awkward and vaguely ridiculous.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The Zig Zag Girl is a stand-alone novel by British author, Elly Griffiths. Brighton, England, 1950: the young woman had been sawn in three; the parts, contained in black wooden boxes fastened with brass clips, were discovered in the Left Luggage room of the railway station. Witness descriptions are vague, but several aspects of the case cause DI Edgar Stephens, lead investigator, to travel to Eastbourne to seek out Max Mephisto, magician. Their association began in Inverness during the war, when they were part of a Secret Service team, the Magic Men, but a tragic event had seen the end of team, and their involvement . The resemblance to one of Max’s tricks, the Zig Zag Girl, is strong, but he cannot cast any light on the matter, even when he learns, to his shock, the identity of the victim. When Max’s engagements bring him to Brighton, another death staged as a magic trick leads him to team up with Edgar in an effort to find the killer. In keeping with the magic trick theme, Griffiths cleverly divides her novel into four parts, aptly titled: The Build-Up, Misdirection, Raising the Stakes and The Reveal. She uses two narrators, Edgar and Max, to convey different parts of the story as well as to give different perspectives on events. The immediate post-war era ensures the absence of mobile phones, internet, DNA and even many personal vehicles; thus the detective work relies on heavily on legwork, personal visits and intelligent deduction. Griffiths gives the reader characters that are real and flawed; some are vain and selfish; others distracted by misdirection and convinced by illusion. Her plot is clever and original and has a few twists that even the most astute reader may fail to anticipate. The atmosphere of post-war Britain is skilfully evoked with description, dialogue and the attitudes common at the time. This is an excellent murder mystery from the author of the Ruth Galloway crime novels, and fans will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Twink More than 1 year ago
Elly Griffiths writes one of my favourite series - the Ruth Galloway mysteries. Having devoured the last one, I was resigned to a least another year 'til the next. And then....I discovered that she has started another series! The Zig Zag Girl is the first in the Magic Men Mysteries. Post WWII England in 1950 is the setting. Detective Edgar Stephens is assigned to a horrific crime. A young woman's body is delivered to the station - in three pieces in three boxes. And Stephens can't help but be reminded of a magic trick - The Zig Zag Girl. Now, why would he be reminded of that? Well, Stephens was part of a covert team during the war that used tricks and deception to discombobulate the 'Jerrys". Stephens has kept his distance from the unit in the years following the war. But this murder and his investigation inevitably reunite him with the Magic Men. Notably Max Mephisto - the inventor of the Zig Zag Girl trick. What I absolutely love about Griffith's books are her characters. They're appealing, unusual and engaging. Each has a rich background and personality - I liked them immediately and look forward to seeing them again. Edgar and Max each have a voice in the Zig Zag Girl, so we get a view from each of their perspectives. What I also liked was that the mystery has to be solved the 'old fashioned way' - without the use of cell phones, computer databases and modern technology. Instead we're along for the ride as Stephens and Mephisto follow the clues and connections, making their own deductions. Griffiths uses misdirection, one of a magician's tricks, to keep the mystery going, sending the reader's suspicions in the wrong direction. (But clever readers will suss it out) The setting is fascinating - the world of variety shows and magicians was fun and full of detail. The Zig Zag Girl was a great introduction to a new set of characters - this reader will be looking for the second in this series. (But Ruth is still my favourite!) And the inspiration for this new series? There truly was a group of camouflage experts in WWII called the Magic Gang. And Griffith's grandfather also was on the variety circuit as a comedian.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adore an Elly Griffiths mystery. I am sure you will too. ~*~LEB~*~