As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Quercus, 5 November 2015. ISBN: 978-1-78429-0263-9
A new novel from Elly Griffiths is always something to look forward to,
and her new series, set in 1950s Brighton and featuring a stage magician as
well as a more conventional detective inspector, is set fair to rival the Ruth
Galloway books which rightly made her a popular and sought-after member of the
crime writing community.
Smoke and Mirrors is the second in the series. Two children, Annie and
Mark, have gone missing in the weeks before one of the coldest Christmases
Brighton has ever experienced. D I Edgar Stephens has his work cut out,
battling the elements as well as the children’s oddly reticent family and
friends. Meanwhile, Edgar’s wartime chum Max Mephisto, magician extraordinaire,
is in pantomime down the road from the police station.
The plot thickens more than a
little when Edgar learns that the children were keen and talented amateur
playwrights and actors, preparing to mount their latest production in a tiny
theatre constructed especially for them by a slightly creepy honorary uncle.
And when the children’s bodies are found and Max discovers that a similar crime
took place in a theatre almost exactly forty years earlier, the pool of
suspects widens to include some of the panto cast and crew.
1950s Brighton comes across
loud and clear, complete with shabby theatrical digs, sparse working-class
homes and icy streets. The plot, too, is satisfyingly intricate, with plenty of
red herrings and misdirection, and a denouement that was hidden in plain sight
all along, if only we’d kept our eyes open.
But it’s following the
characters’ lives and progress that keeps readers coming back to a series, and
Elly Griffiths’s main talent is for creating a lively, engaging and varied
bunch to play out her drama. In Smoke and Mirrors there are plenty of
sharply-drawn personalities, and even the bit-part players have a real
presence. Among the ongoing cast I especially enjoyed feisty detective sergeant
Emma, full of initiative and a far better match for Edgar than self-centred
chorus girl Ruby. Primary school teacher Daphne is more glamorous than any
teacher I’ve ever encountered and mettlesome with it. Max Mephisto adds a touch
of slightly seedy elegance, and the panto crew show how theatre really looks
behind the onstage lights and colour.
It’s good to see Elly
Griffiths spread her wings beyond rural Norfolk. Long may Edgar and Max
continue to fight crime among the less savoury elements of postwar Brighton.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
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 six further novels featuring forensic
archaeologist Ruth Galloway, The Janus Stone,The House at Seas End,
A Room Full of Bones, Dying Fall, The Outcast Dead andtwo books in a new series set in the 1950’s.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.