May 20

Smoke and Mirrors – Elly Griffiths

Smoke and MirrorsPantomime season is in full swing on the pier with Max Mephisto starring in Aladdin, but Max’s headlines have been stolen by the disappearance ­­of two local children. When they are found dead in the snow, surrounded by sweets, it’s not long before the press nickname them ‘Hansel and Gretel’. DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate. The girl, Annie, used to write gruesome plays based on the Grimms’ fairy tales. Does the clue lie in Annie’s unfinished – and rather disturbing – last script? Or might it lie with the eccentric theatricals who have assembled for the pantomime? Once again Edgar enlists Max’s help in penetrating the shadowy theatrical world that seems to hold the key. But is this all just classic misdirection?


My thanks to Quercus for my review copy which I received through Netgalley


A Stephens and Mephisto story – I had really enjoyed their first outing in The Zig-Zag Girl so was delighted when Elly Griffiths released Smoke and Mirrors. The 1950’s post war setting is perfectly captured and these stories have a nice “ago” feel to them.

In Smoke and Mirrors it is Panto Season –  Max Mephisto is in town to tread the boards and bring elements of his magic show to the masses as he plays the evil wizard in Aladdin. Although he has toured for many years, Max is finding pantomime to be something of an unusual beast and isn’t sure he is enjoying being routinely ‘booed’ each night.

Elsewhere Edgar Stephens is tackling the sobering double murder of two young children. They disappeared on their way home one evening and their bodies turned up buried in snow and surrounded by sweets.  The local sweetshop owner is not trusted by the town’s residents but appears to have a solid alibi for the murders.  Stephens and his colleagues have their work cut out to find a killer and bring a shred of comfort to two devastated families that have had their world torn apart.

Smoke and Mirrors was such a fun read and a really good “whodunit” that I could get my teeth into.  I knew who the killer was (with absolute certainty) from about page 40 and only changed my mind about half a dozen times.  Each guess was wrong and Elly Griffiths played me perfectly – I love it when I am wrong!

Despite the grim investigation that runs through the book there are some great comedy moments, the personal lives of Max and Edgar are explored in much more detail and the other supporting characters also get their chance to shine.  All these elements give Smoke and Mirrors the depth that many novels I have read recently don’t quite seem to achieve.

I don’t know if Elly Griffiths plans to bring Stephens and Mephisto back – but I certainly hope to see them again.


Smoke and Mirrors is published by Quercus Books and is available in Hardcover and Digital formats and also in audiobook.

You can order a copy of Smoke and Mirrors by clicking here:

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Posted May 20, 2016 by Gordon in category "From The Bookshelf