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Friday 15 December 2017

‘The Vanishing Box’ by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus,
2 November 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-78429-700-8.

It’s December 1953 and Max Mephisto is top of the bill at the Brighton Hippodrome, but now appearing as Magician and Daughter. Having only recently learned that he had a daughter Max is both elated at being a father to the lovely Ruby, herself a talented magician, as well as slightly miffed that his agent Joe Passolini keeps telling him that his proposed television show with Ruby could make him a star. As far as Max is concerned he has been a star now for two decades. He is also none too happy about Vic Cutler’s tableau show of naked 'living statues.' But Joe Passolini had conveniently forgotten to mention that fact when he got the Hippodrome booking.

Across town Ruby’s fiancé Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is investigating the murder of a young blonde girl Lily Burtenshaw, a flower seller, found in her boarding-house room positioned in a recreation of the famous painting of the Lady Jane Grey.  Questioning the other lodgers Edgar learns that two of the other young ladies are part of the troupe also appearing at the Hippodrome.

Not surprisingly Edgar’s investigation moves in the direction of the naked ‘living statues’ who also feature famous paintings.  A second killing, this time someone in the living trope, and everyone in the show becomes a suspect.  Sent to keep an eye on things at the Hippodrome young DS Bob Willis thinks the whole thing is sleazy.

Edgar’s priority is to solve these two murders before there is any more killing, but a motive proves elusive, and his attention to his fiancé takes second place.  Although DS Emma would not say she rejoices in this situation, as she is a nice person, it certainly doesn’t make her unhappy.  Meanwhile despite his reservations about her job, Bob Willis finds himself drawn to one of the young actresses. 

Elly Griffiths is without doubt a wonderful writer, and my heart lifts when I see a new book out in either of her series.  Both are brilliant.  Always with an intriguing mystery with interesting well-fleshed out characters, she weaves a fascinating tale.   And like all good mysteries, some surprising revelations along the way with a delicious twist at the end.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Elly Griffiths is the author of a series of crime novels set in England’s Norfolk county and featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. The first in the series, Crossing Places, earned a good deal of praise both in Griffiths’ native country, England, and in the U.S. The Literary Review termed it “a cleverly plotted and extremely interesting first novel, highly recommended.  Since then Elly has written eight further novels featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. Recently she has written a second series set in the 1950’s featuring magician Max Mephisto and DI Stevens. There are two books in the new series.

Click here to read a review of Elly’s latest Ruth Galloway book
The Chalk Pit


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