'Mixes cosiness and sharpness in a way that recalls the best of Agatha Christie' Sunday Express
Set in atmospheric post-war Brighton, the first three brilliant cases in a second thrilling series from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries. If you like Ruth, you'll love Stephens and Mephisto.
THE ZIG ZAG GIRL
When a girl's body is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, magician Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar's. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy army unit called the Magic Men. Max is still on the variety circuit and is reluctant to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind. Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another 'trick', the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in the killer's sights...
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
It is mid-winter in Brighton, pantomime season. Two missing children are found buried under snow in this chilling new case for DI Stephens and Max Mephisto, the latter starring in Aladdin. With fairy tales in the air, it's not long before the press have found a nickname for the case: 'Hansel and Gretel'. DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate. The missing girl, Annie, used to write plays and perform them with her friends. Does the clue lie in Annie's unfinished - and rather disturbing - last script? Or might it lie with the eccentric actor types who have assembled for the pantomime? Once again Edgar enlists Max's help in penetrating the shadowy theatrical world that seems to hold the key.
THE BLOOD CARD
Elizabeth II's coronation is looming, but the murder of their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, spoils the happy mood for DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. A playbill featuring another deceased comrade is found in Colonel Cartwright's possession, and a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card. The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic are enough for Stephens and Mephisto to be summoned to the case. Edgar is sent to New York on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key, but someone silences him first. It is Edgar's colleague, DS Emma Holmes, who finds the clue that leads them to an anarchist group intent on providing an explosive finale to Coronation Day.
Elly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing for many years. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, are set in Norfolk. The series has won the CWA Dagger in the library, and has been shortlisted three times for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her Stephens and Mephisto series is based in 1950s Brighton. She lives near Brighton with her husband, an archaeologist, and their two children.