Elizabeth II’s coronation is looming, but the murder of their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, spoils the happy mood for DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. A playbill featuring another deceased comrade is found in Colonel Cartwright’s possession, and a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card. The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic are for Stephens and Mephisto to be summoned to the case.
Edgar’s ongoing investigation into the death of Brighton fortune-teller Madame Zabini is put on hold. Max is busy rehearsing for a spectacular Coronation Day variety show – and his television debut – so it’s Edgar who is sent to New York, a land of plenty worlds away from still-rationed England. He’s on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key, but someone silences him first. It’s Edgar’s colleague, DS Emma Holmes, who finds the clue, buried in the files of the Zabini case, that leads them to an anarchist group intent on providing an explosive finale to Coronation Day.
Now it’s up to Edgar, Max and Emma to foil the plot, and find out who it is who’s been dealing the cards . . .
My thanks to Quercus Books for my review copy, received through Netgalley.
A third outing for DI Edgar Stephens and his friend, magician, Max Mephisto and I am delighted to see them back. Previous books have been centred around Brighton where Stephens is based, however, The Blood Card gives our heroes a much bigger playground with much of the action taking place in London and even across the Atlantic in America.
Stephens is investigating the death of a fortune teller but both he Mephisto are summoned to London to meet with the army top brass and guided to investigate the murder of their wartime commander. The investigation will take Stephens on an American adventure where his life will be in jeopardy, even if he is not aware of the danger he faces.
Back home Max Mephisto is facing a new challenge of his own…television! A live broadcast of a cabaret show is planned for the evening of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Max will be one of the star acts (if he can be persuaded to make the leap from the stage to the small screen) but he will not have considered the possibility of a second magician also being on the bill.
With Stephens and Mephisto distracted it falls to DS Emma Holmes to lead the investigation into the murder of the fortune teller. With the gift of “second sight” a family trait amongst the victim’s family there are several concerned parties keen to offer Emma advice on how her life may be on the wrong path but can she believe her future lies in the cards?
I thoroughly enjoy the Stephens and Mephisto stories. Elly Griffiths captures the feeling of post war life so perfectly in her writing and the slower, more traditional way of life is always a welcome and refreshing change of pace from the modern “gritty” stories I seem to read so often.
With Edgar, Max, Emma and Ruby given much more time to shine individually I really felt that I got to know the characters in more detail in The Blood Card. For a reader that enjoys an ongoing series it is a delight to see the cast growing and being shaped with each new book.
The Blood Card kept me entertained through a couple of dark winter evenings, perfect reading for when I had a bit of quiet time to relax and unwind.
The Blood Card is published by Quercus Books and is available in Hardback and digital formats now. Click here to order a copy: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Card-Stephens-Mephisto-Mystery/dp/1784296686/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483383958&sr=8-1&keywords=the+blood+card