The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths – Book Review

I ‘ve been meaning to read The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths for two reasons. Firstly, I really enjoy Elly Griffiths’ writing style. So far I have only read books featuring her DS Harbinder Kaur character, but The Zig Zag Girl is the first in her Brighton Mysteries series – and that is the second reason. Brighton is my hometown and books set there just fill me with joy!

Opening sentence: ‘Looks like someone’s sliced her into three,’ said Solomon Carter, the police surgeon, chattily.

Do you know The Magic Men?

Set in 1950s Brighton, The Zig Zag Girl introduces us to war friends Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto. I say war friends, as in, they met when they were recruited to work for MI5 in the same area of the war effort five years previously.

Edgar is now a policeman and Max is – as he always was – a magician. In fact, their group in the war effort were known as The Magic Men, drafted in to come up with schemes to trick the enemy.

After the war they lost touch until a murder brings their paths together…

Nothing like a magic show

A woman is found dead – cut in three as if a magic trick has gone horribly wrong. As Edgar is investigating the case, it turns out there are links to his old friend and magician, Max. Max happens to be performing at the Theatre Royal in Brighton, so is on hand to answer Edgar’s questions and give his expert insight.

‘You thought it might be a lunatic magician.’


We learn more about Max and Edgar’s time in the army and the incident that is linking the present day murders to events five year ago…

The Brighton Mysteries

I love the knowing nods that scatter the tone of this book. From the Brighton references (hello Butlin’s Ocean hotel – I went swimming there as a child) to ones about an up-and-coming comedian, Tommy Cooper and even a direct nod to good old Agatha Christie.

In the author’s note at the end of the book, Elly explains how her grandfather performed on the variety circuit and fought in the war, so the roots of these characters obviously come from a personal place and that’s reflected in how effortlessly they come across on the page.

I loved meeting Max and Edgar and am so pleased that this is the first of a six book series (so far) so I can get reading more of their adventures!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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