cover image The Zig Zag Girl

The Zig Zag Girl

Elly Griffiths. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-544-52794-2

Mary Higgins Clark Award–winner Griffiths (The Crossing Places) launches a new series with this engaging mystery set in Brighton, England, in 1950. The Magic Men, a group of stage magicians who performed special missions during WWII, have since gone their separate ways. Only one, Max Mephisto, is still earning top billing on the variety circuit. Others have become a police officer, a wisecracking comedian, a carpenter. The oldest of the group has drifted lower and lower in the profession, performing to bored audiences in sleazy strip clubs. The gruesome murder of a glamorous magician’s stage assistant draws the former team back together. The portrayal of the backstage life and the onstage performances of illusionists forms a fascinating backdrop to the main action. Brief flashbacks to the Magic Men’s wartime missions provide an equally gripping backstory. As the plot deepens, Griffiths’s tone darkens, leading to a series of surprise twists. Readers will look forward to seeing a lot more of Max and company. Agent: Rebecca Carter, Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.)