[ARC] Smoke and mirrors (DI Stephens & Max Mephisto #2) by Elly Griffiths

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We met Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto during the murder investigation in which their past played an important role, told in the novel The Zig-zag girl.

We meet them again in this novel, Smoke and Mirrors, second installment of their own book series, while they are busy working around the case concerning the disappearance of two children. Edgar is investigating their disappearance, with the help of two subordinates, Emma and Bob, while Max is busy playing in the Aladdin pantomime, out in Brighton’s theatre..

Like the previous novel I think the crime element is well-built, engaging but hard to solve despite the hints. This time the thread under the story are not magician tricks but fairy tales, that show the dark tones the original versions have.

The investigation sees Edgar as main character, with Emma and Bob, both well characterized respect to the previous installment, while Max has a more secondary role, except for his main role as Edgar friend.

Various hints show that the series should increase by other novels, and I think I’ll read them..

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* Smoke and mirrors by Elly Griffiths ★★★★

*I read this book in English

[ARC] The Zig Zag Girl (DI Stephens & Max Mephisto #1) by Elly Griffiths

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The Zig-zag girl is a magic trick: a girl enter in a cabinet and the magician inserts some blades, cutting the girl in three pieces and then, et voilà, it’s easy enough to put her back and she comes out of the cabinet. Round of applause.

Unfortunately one day the detective inspector Edgar Stephens receives three boxes that contains three-part of a girl, and a series of hints bring him remember about the Magic Men group where he belonged during the WWII.  The magic men where a group of illusionist instituted by the MI6 to craft illusion for the sake of german pilots.

Edgar gets back in touch with Max Mephisto, who invented the zig zag girl trick, to try getting back in touch with the other magic men and find a solution for the girl’s murder. This will force him to remember painful memories from the past that he tried to forget for his whole life.

The Zig Zag Girl is a crime novel where different elements fit well together: illusions, memories of war and a general melancholy of the main characters that are well described during the story along with their dreams, regrets and desires.

It’s a nice novel with a well-structured solution that is not evident (despite some hints put the reader on the correct path) and it seems to be the first of a series about Edgar and Max.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths ★★★★

*I read this book in English

The girl in the flammable skirt by Aimee Bender

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The girl in the flammable skirt is a collection of stories by Aimee Bender, published when the author was nineteen years old – something I think it should be mentioned, since the book does not seem written by a young beginner.

The stories can be connected to the magic realism genre, for the stories elements and situations like the mutant girls with the hand of fire and ice, the ruby ring with magical proprieties, the man who wakes up with a hole in his belly, …

The thing that group the stories is the fact they have as main character mostly young women in search of something to fill their dissatisfaction: the stories are marked by a slightly melancholy the characters try to face, so a girl spends her day in evaluating men, another in trying to find out if it’s still possible for her to love her husband, and a librarian give herself to the library customer to forget her father’s death.

Some of the story are more easy to remember respect to others, overall the book in my opinion works thanks to the dissatisfaction theme that is above each story. The reader then remembers the emotive impression the collection made more than each single story.

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* The girl in the flammable skirt by Aimee Bender ★★★☆☆½

*I read this book in English