Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Smoke and Mirrors

Finished April 12
Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

This is the second book in the series featuring magician Max Mephisto and police detective Edgar Stephens. This book is set in 1951 in Brighton. It is in November that the book begins, and Max is in a pantomime at the local theatre. Two tween-age children go missing from a local neighbourhood, and Edgar is involved in the search. But soon a winter storm moves in and the snow makes the search more difficult. When the bodies of the children are discovered a few days later, they are found under the snow with pieces of candy leading to them like a trail. 
It makes Edgar and his team Emma and Bob think of Hansel and Gretel, and when it turns out that the two were putting on a play using younger children as actors that is reminiscent of the fairy tale, they start looking at the adults who were mentors to them.
There are also echoes from a decades earlier child murder at a pantomime, and some of the people in the Brighton area may be connected to that earlier event. 
Max's newly discovered daughter Ruby is in a production nearby, and she appears here in a peripheral way, and we see the beginning of her relationship with Edgar.
Edgar takes his job very seriously and works on the case tirelessly, foregoing sleep and sustenance, so you get a real sense of his empathy and commitment. 
I had just read book number three in this series, so it was nice seeing more of the background of the characters here. Emma is interesting as she has taken an unusual job for a woman of her background, and she doesn't advertise her class when at work. Her parents don't necessarily approve of her career choice, but they do support her choices. 
The whole aspect of fairy tales and their history is interesting as well, and I really enjoyed this aspect of the work, seeing how surprised some of the adults were at what they learned, and what creativity the children had. 

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