The Vanishing Box by Elly Griffiths – Book review

The Vanishing Box is the fourth book in the wonderful Brighton Mysteries series, written by Elly Griffiths. Set in the 1950s, these crime books follow the unlikely friendship of policeman DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. Always with an excellent murder mystery in the mix too.

This series is my absolute comfort read go-to. I’m from Brighton so love books set in my hometown but also, as The Vanishing Box is my fourth outing with these characters, I really enjoy their development. Particularly in this book, I felt that Edgar and Max moved forward as characters, in great ways. They are both so well written; they are opposites but you can see why their friendship works.

The golden age of variety

Max and his daughter Ruby (also a magician) are the headline act in Brighton’s iconic Hippodrome theatre, with their high-impact vanishing box trick. They are sharing the stage with a rather interesting act – the living tableau, which is basically naked women arranged to look like famous moments in history or paintings. Aside from them scandalising the more prudish members of the town, trouble starts when there is a murder with obvious nods to the tableau.

DI Stephens investigates and, along with his constables Emma and Bob, must find the killer before they strike again. There were a few gasp out loud moment in The Vanishing Box, the pace was great and the level of emotion blended perfectly with the murder mystery.

Max plays less of a role in the case in this book than he as done in others. But don’t worry, he still gets lots of air time and is as enigmatic as ever.

Nostalgia hit

I particularly enjoy how the Brighton Mysteries series celebrates the art of the variety performance – I find myself learning a lot about all the types of acts and how it was all done.

Also, as I’ve mentioned in reviews of the previous three books, what I love about them is the effortless way they conjure up a sense of nostalgia. 1950s Brighton just pings off the page in the most delicious way.

I listened to The Vanishing Box on audiobook and narrator, actor Luke Thompson is amazing at accents so captures all the characters perfectly. I’ve also just discovered he is in Bridgerton.

I was also lucky enough to speak to author of this book, so you can read my interview with Elly Griffiths here, if you like!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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