cover image The Vanishing Box

The Vanishing Box

Elly Griffiths. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (268p) ISBN 978-0-544-75029-6

At the start of Mary Higgins Clark Award–winner Griffiths’s solid fourth Magic Men mystery (after 2017’s The Blood Card), stage magician Max Mephisto and his daughter, Ruby French, are headlining a variety show in Brighton, England, during the 1953 holiday season. Meanwhile, Det. Insp. Edgar Stephens—Max’s friend and former military colleague, and Ruby’s fiancé—investigates the murder of a young woman with ties to a female troupe performing in the same show. As more deaths follow, a ruthless killer threatens Max’s new love interest, Sgt. Emma Holmes, who’s Edgar’s colleague. Series fans will appreciate the developments in the various relationships, but they and new readers might wish for more insight into characters’ personalities and motives. That said, Griffiths nicely evokes the post-WWII zeitgeist in Britain, incorporating details about hypocritical censorship laws and the theatrical lifestyle. Those who favor human intrigues over crime solving should find this a charming holiday read. [em]Agent: Rebecca Carter, Janklow & Nesbit (U.K.). (Oct.) [/em]