Elly Griffiths – The Vanishing Box (2017)
Quercus, Hardcover, 368 pages
Published: 2nd November 2017
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.