Elly Griffiths – The Blood Card (2016)
Quercus, Hardcover, 384 pages
Published: 3rd November 2016
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.