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Library Journal Review
Brighton DI Edgar Stephens is investigating the kidnapping and murder of two children during the 1951 Christmas season, their bodies positioned and left in a bizarre scene that brings to mind the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. His old friend, Max Mephisto, is in town to perform magic at the annual Brighton pantomime, a traditional English Christmas stage show. When Stan Parks, a colleague both men knew during World War II, arrives in Brighton to work in the pantomime, he's reminded of an old murder case that also involved children's fairy tales. Now, the Magic Men have reunited to find a killer before he strikes again. VERDICT This fascinating sequel to The Zig-Zag Girl further develops the two protagonists, each with their own strengths: Edgar is a puzzle solver and Max is a master magician, who also happens to be heir to a British title. Their admiration for each other lays a strong foundation for their partnership in future cases. [See -Prepub Alert, 4/10/16.] © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Tweens Annie and Mark are missing, and DI Edgar Stephens is charged with leading the search in Brighton, England, in the winter of 1951. It is just before Christmas, and that means pantomime play season in England. The "panto" plays are intertwined with the grim fairy tales that young Annie writes and stages in a lonely neighbor's garage. The girl has been mentored by her primary school teacher, and she enlists the help of her many brothers and sisters and her best friend Mark, who shares a working-class upbringing. It's lucky for DI Stephens that it is play season, because that means his close friend from the war, magician Max Mephisto, is in town performing. Though very different, Max and Edgar forged a tight friendship during World War II, when they were assigned as "Magic Men" in a covert operation. There are so many trails to follow and so many possible suspects, and as time runs out for the missing children, another victim emerges. While the British colloquialisms about the "panto" will be new to American readers, the focus on child victims; the dark, fairy-tale aspects; and the engaging characters will draw students into this second in the series. Hand this one to fans of Mary Higgins Clark. VERDICT An excellent addition to larger mystery collections.-Jake Pettit, Enka Schools, Istanbul, Turkey © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
WWII special-ops veterans DCI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto, the Magic Men of The Zig Zag Girl (2015), are back. Two children have been murdered, their bodies left in a bizarre Hansel-and-Gretel tableau. When the teacher of one of the victims is also found dead, the Grimm link becomes even stronger. The investigation plays out in a bitterly cold and snowy winter in 1951 Brighton, shortly before Christmas. The sense of time and place is very strong. The postwar rationing of heating fuel is chilling. Wear warm socks for this one. Griffiths' ability to assemble a cast of eccentric characters from the townsfolk and the shadowy theater world makes for a credible suspect list, although how the author manages (along with her engaging Ruth Galloway books) to maintain two superlative series is the real mystery here. An excellent recommendation for readers who want something in the Golden Age style, evoking both the St. Mary Mead of Agatha Christie and the theater world of Ngaio Marsh.--Murphy, Jane Copyright 2016 Booklist