The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m a fan of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway novels and admire her unusual style of historic mystery writing. This novel is no exception. Expertly written to really evoke the post-war old-school British era, the seedy back stage areas and the awe that magicians once had.
This is a multi-viewpoint story from the perspective of one-time superstar magician Max Mephisto and DI Edgar Stephens, a lonely shy policeman. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men, formed to use stage trickery to confuse the enemy.
The story had an interesting premise, with little bits of drama both during and post-war period. This novel was inspired by the authors Grandfather, which I think gives it a really interesting feel of a rekindled era. Mystery, magic, mayhem and murder all add to this dramatic story. The characters are incredibly well written and I was excited to read that Max & Edgar will be returning in a future mystery novel, making this an exciting start to an unusual mystery series. There was a few areas that the novel was a little slow filling in quite a bit of background info but I am hoping that is used to the authors advantage in future novels in the series.
This book captures your interest in a particularly unusual historic storyline. It is definitely different from the Galloway series but I did enjoy seeing the author’s diversity. These books will appeal to fans of Agatha Christie & MC Beaton style writing; cosy murder, mystery but with a very smart plot and plenty of action.
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The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths –
Having finished the latest book in the Ruth Galloway series I am slightly mixed in my view. I enjoyed the latest story and was intrigued by the new storyline and enjoyed how things tied together with the detective world and archaeological world. The twists with the babies where well placed and although the clues were there I was still surprised by the twist involving Judy. My main flaws with the story are:-
As a loyal reader of the series I do feel Ruth and Nelsons relationship was avoided in this book almost to the point of ignoring it altogether. The storyline tells the reader it is because of his marriage but the situation has not changed since the last few books so this complicated relationship should have featured more in my opinion. The two characters are very dynamic and spark of each other so well, whether it is loving or hating each other, and I missed that a lot in this novel.
My second flaw is with one specific scene that I am hoping is a prelude to a future event in the Ruth Galloway series. The story makes a surprising change of pace and tells a small scene from Todds point of view. The only point in this scene seems to be to tell the reader that Nelsons wife is attractive. In my opinion if Elly felt the need to remind everyone of Nelsons wife this scene could have been told from Cloughie’s perspective, he is a known skirt-chaser, has split with Tanya and he does have a stronger lead in this story.
All in all I did enjoy this novel (as I always do with Elly’s writing), just including my little bit of positive criticism as I do love the stories so much and want the high standard of writing and storytelling to continue for many more books to come.