It’s always a risk for a writer to start a new series. Elly Griffths is the author of the successful books set in East Anglia featuring forensic anthropologist, Ruth Galloway. Fans of the series, including me, eagerly await each new instalment but I’m sure it can be wearying for an author to keep writing around the same characters. The Zig Zag Girl is Griffiths’ first book in a new series set in 1950s Brighton and it will be interesting to see what fans make of the novel.
The head and legs of a woman are found at a train station in two cases. Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens receives the body’s torso in a package addressed to him using his former military rank, ‘captain’. The body is revealed to be that of a former assistant of magician Max Mephisto. Mephisto once served in the army with Edgar Stephens and they soon discover that members of their former group, known as The Magic Men, are being hunted down and killed using gruesome re-enactments of magic tricks.
The Zig Zag Girl is an interesting read mainly for its depictions of post-war Brighton and the troubles of people who are adjusting to civilian life. We’re on Foyles War territory and it makes for an enjoyable setting. The story is slightly bizarre which I found initially difficult to engage with. Griffiths is at her best when dealing with the minutiae of domestic life and the sheer mundanity of aspects of the entertainment profession. She is, however, an excellent writer and, by the end, I was racing to the finish.
Whether the characters stand up to a long series, I’m not sure but as a one-off, I found The Zig Zag Girl to be an very good read.
Thanks to Quercus for my review copy.