cover image Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors

Elly Griffiths. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-544-52795-9

Set in Brighton, England, in 1951, Griffith’s captivating sequel to 2015’s Zig Zag Girl finds Det. Insp. Edgar Stephens embroiled in a grim holiday hunt for the murderer of two children. Like an unnerving scene from a fairy tale, a trail of candy in the snow leads to the bodies of Annie Francis, a 13-year-old with a talent for writing, and Mark Webster, her constant companion of similar age. As Stephens searches for a killer, tension grows in the town. Is the murderer the candy-store owner and the last to see them alive, or the quirky bachelor who helped the victims stage plays? Matters become more complicated when magician Max Mephisto, Stephen’s friend, appears with a disturbingly similar tale of an earlier murder. Is an actor in the Christmas pantomime connected to the long-ago murder of a young performer? Are the present-day murders a reenactment? Stephens and his team must sort through misdirection and vanishing acts before another child dies in this suspenseful outing. Agent: Rebecca Carter, Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.)