Murder reaches deep into the hearts of a magician and a police officer.
DI Edgar Stephens and his team are called to the scene of a disturbingly odd murder in a Brighton boardinghouse. Lovely florist Lily Burtenshaw was strangled and carefully posed in her room, reducing the six tenants of her landlords, Edna and Norris, to five. Of those remaining, Brenda and Peggy work in a bank; Peter Entwhistle is a shaky retired bookkeeper in his 70s; and newcomers Betty and Janette perform in a risqué tableau at the Hippodrome, where Edgar’s pal, famous magician Max Mephisto, co-stars with his daughter, Ruby, who’s engaged to Edgar. Ever since Max and Edgar became friends while serving in a World War II special-ops group, Max has assisted Edgar with other cases (The Blood Card, 2017, etc.) and is more than willing to help out again. Edgar’s clever DS, Emma Holmes, suddenly realizes why Lily’s pose looks familiar: It mimics the death of Lady Jane Grey in a famous painting. The group of near-naked beauties that make up the tableau at the Hippodrome re-create similar historic moments. One of these showgirls, stunning Florence Jones, has a fling with Max even though she’s the mistress of wealthy showman Vic Cutler, the next to die. Indeed, love must be in the air. Despite his long-standing arrangement with his landlady, Max grows close to Florence and pulls out all the stops to prove her innocence. Emma has long loved Edgar, who has doubts about his engagement to the ambitious Ruby. Even Edgar’s sergeant falls for one of the showgirls. But all these budding romances must be pushed aside as the sleuths unearth clues and look to the past for help in finding a ruthless and unusual killer.
Griffiths combines plenty of theater lore, romance, and a clever mystery that’s sure to please both newcomers and fans of the Magic Men detective team.