Review: The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths (2020)
DS Harbinder Kaur sees nothing to concern her in the account of Peggy Smith’s death – the death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious.
But the carer, Natalka, reveals that Peggy had been lying about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…
The reason to be suspicious is heightened by Peggy career (a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors) and Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure when clearing out Peggy’s flat.
Then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.
This is the second in the DS Harbinder Kaur series by Elly Griffiths after The Stranger Diaries.
I did find it a bit heavy going at points and found it very hard to finish. I did finish it and the plot is well thought out and you do engage with the core characters but it is not as enjoyable as I have found either the Ruth Galloway books or the Brighton Mysteries of Elly Griffiths.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley.
The Vanishing Box is the 4th in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by Elly Griffiths (probably best known for the Ruth Galloway novels).
It is Christmas 1953 and Max Mephisto & his daughter Ruby are headlining Brighton Hippodrome, an achievement only slightly marred by one of the less-than-savoury supporting acts – a tableau show of naked ‘living statues’ a la the Windmill Theatre. This might seem to have nothing in common with DI Edgar Stephens’ investigation into the death of a quiet flowerseller who was left by her killer posed as Lady Jane Grey at her execution.
If there is one thing that the old comrades have learned it is that, in Brighton, the line between art and life – and death – is all too easily blurred.
Once again there is excellent characterisation, especially of the 5 main protagonists (Max Mephisto, DI Edgar Stephens and his 2 sergeants, Emma Holmes and Bob Willis; Ruby – Maxs daughter and Edgars fiancée ) all who contrast with each other nicely. Personally I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the recent of the Magic Men and even Max seems to be less prominent than before.
The mystery element is well handled with twists and turns but a very fair outcome – I guessed the type of killer, although not the name, very early on.
What really makes these books for me is the high level of accurate detail from the 1950s which creates a convincing world.
My copy was provided by the publishers, Quercus, via Netgalley.
The Chalk Pit is the 9th in the Ruth Galloway Mystery series by Elly Griffiths.
In the underground tunnels beneath Norwich boiled human bones have been found by Dr Ruth Galloway. The finding that they are relatively recent and not a medieval curiosity means DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.
DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper with the only lead being the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might just be a figure of speech, but the discovery of the bones and the rumours that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers give cause for concern.
As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. Another woman goes missing and the police are under pressure to find her. The dark secrets of “The Underground” seems to be the key – can Ruth and Nelson uncover its secrets before it claims another victim.
I am a big fan of the Ruth Galloway novels but I do feel that they are best enjoyed in sequence but you can probably pick up most of the background needed to enjoy the novel as you go along.
As usual there is the excellent characterisation that one expects in Elly Griffiths’ books that gives you believable albeit flawed but ultimately likeable ongoing main protagonists (Ruth Galloway, Harry Nelson & Judy especially in this one although Kate is coming to the fore). There is also the usual sufficiently twisty plot to keep you engaged whilst giving yiu a chance to solve the mystery before the protagonists do and there is a well-researched backdrop to hang the story on.
As I have stated about previous Ruth Galloway mysteries- if you do have a liking for modern cozies with perhaps a little hint of grit then I would strongly recommend this to you.
Thanks to Quercus and Netgalley for the review copy.
The Blood Card is the 3rd in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by Elly Griffiths (probably best known for the Ruth Galloway novels).
It is Brighton, England – 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 along with a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card.
The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic mean that Stephens and Mephisto to be summoned to the case by a colleague of their late commander.
This causes Edgar’s ongoing investigation into the death of Brighton fortune-teller Madame Zabini to be put on hold. Max is busy rehearsing for a spectacular Coronation Day variety show – his television debut – so it’s Edgar who is sent to New York, a land of plenty worlds away from still-rationed England on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key but he is silenced first. Edgar’s colleague, DS Emma Holmes, 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 .
Again there is excellent characterisation, especially of the 5 main protagonists (Max Mephisto, DI Edgar Stephens and his 2 sergeants, Emma Holmes and Bob Willis; Ruby – Maxs daughter and Edgars fiancée ) all who contrast with each other nicely.
The mystery element is well handled with twists and turns but a fair outcome – the only caveat would be with the detour to America which slows the plot down a bit.
The Woman in Blue is the 8th in the Ruth Galloway Mystery series by Elly Griffiths.
The medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions so Ruth’s friend Cathbad takes it in his stride when he sees a vision of a woman in a white gown and blue cloak in the graveyard next to the cottage he is house-sitting. Walsingham has strong connections to the Virgin Mary and Cathbad as a druid feels that visions come with the job. But it becomes clear that Cathbad’s vision was all too human when the body of a woman in a blue dressing-gown is found dead the next day in a nearby ditch. DCI Nelson and his team are called in for the murder investigation and they quickly establish that the dead woman was a recovering addict being treated at a nearby private hospital.
Ruth has managed to avoid Walsingham during her seventeen years in Norfolk but an old university asks to meet her in the village and Ruth is amazed to discover that her friend is now a priest. She has been receiving vitriolic anonymous letters targeting women priests – letters that contain references to local archaeology and a striking phrase about a woman ‘clad in blue, weeping for the world’.
Then another woman is murdered – a priest.
As Walsingham prepares for its annual Easter re-enactment of the Crucifixion, the race is on to unmask the killer before they strike again…
Personally, I am a big fan of the Ruth Galloway novels but should warn you that this is best enjoyed if you are following the series through in order but I still do think you can pick up most of the background needed to enjoy the novel as you go along.
Why am I a fan – well here there is the usual excellent characterisation that one expects in Elly Griffiths’ books that gives you believable albeit flawed but ultimately likeable ongoing main protagonists (Ruth Galloway, Harry Nelson & Cathbad especially in this one) along with a sufficiently twisty plot to keep you engaged and a well-researched backdrop to hang the story on.
If you have a liking for modern cozies with a hint of grit than I would strongly recommend this to you.
Smoke and Mirrors is the 2nd in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by Elly Griffiths (probably best known for the Ruth Galloway novels).
It is Brighton, England in 1951 – the war is over but rationing is ongoing and life is still grim.
Max Mephisto, master illusionist, is slumming it somewhat in a pantomime on the Palace Pier playing Abanazar, the Demon King in Aladdin.
But the headlines in the local papers are no longer about his first appearance in a pantomime, but about the disappearance of two local children (Mark and Annie); when they are found dead in the snow, surrounded by sweets, it’s not long before the police nickname them ‘Hansel and Gretel’.
There are plenty of leads for DI Edgar Stephens (war-time comrade of Max) to investigate.
Annie used to write gruesome plays based on the unexpurgated versions of Grimms’ fairy tales – does the clue lie in her last unfinished – and rather disturbing – script?
Is the presence of sweets a red herring or where they used to lure them to their deaths by Sam Gee, owner of the corner shop where the local children bought sweets?
Or does the answer lie with the eccentric cast of theatricals who have assembled for the pantomime?
I haven’t read the first in the series (The Zig Zag Girl) but do like the Ruth Galloway novels so I thought this might be worth a try plus I have always been interested in the worlds of magic and theatre. In terms of whether you can start here, I think you can as I certainly picked up what background was needed to enjoy the novel as I went along so this can be read as a standalone novel in my opinion.
There is excellent characterisation, especially of the 4 main protagonists (Max Mephisto, DI Edgar Stephens and his 2 sergeants, Emma Holmes (new to CID) and Bob Willis) all who contrast with each other nicely – especially the Roedean educated Holmes and the secondary modern educated Willis.
The mystery element is well handled with twists and turns but a fair outcome.
But for me, it is the detail in the background that makes this book work so well – the wartime experience of Edgar and Max as part of a shadowy secret unit called the Magic Men who used stage trickery to confuse the enemy (paralleling the claims of Jasper Maskelyne in his book Magic: Top Secret) and the seediness of Brighton in general post-war and especially within the theatrical community are particular strengths.