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Smoke and Mirrors

(Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,509 ratings  ·  346 reviews
Chilling murder in the world of 1950s theatre – another case for DI Stephens and Max Mephisto.

Brighton, winter 1951.

Pantomime season is in full swing on the pier with Max Mephisto starring in Aladdin, but Max’s headlines have been stolen by the disappearance ’of two local children. When they are found dead in the snow, surrounded by sweets, it’s not long before the press n
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published November 5th 2015 by Quercus
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Elly Griffiths Pub date in the US is Sept 16. Sorry it's so long to wait. US publishers are bringing out the books in a slightly different order.

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3.86  · 
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 ·  2,509 ratings  ·  346 reviews

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I listened to the wonderfully narrated audio of this one, and found it atmospheric and beautifully evoking the historical period of 1950s Brighton. It's the second in the DI Edgar Stephens and Magician Max Mephisto, friends since their stint in Norway as The Magic Men in WW2. This is a dark, creepy and menacing addition that revolves around the world of the darkest of fairytales, wicked stepmothers, fathers discarding their children, the dark side of those granted the wish of a desperately wante ...more
Diane S ☔
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 I am always a little hesitant to read a new series by an author who already writes a series I absolutely love. Ellyn Griffiths though, comes up, with the most marvelous characters, she does it in her Ruth Galloway series, and I feel she does it in this new series as well. Two young children have gone missing, thirteen year old Annie and her friend Mark. Annie clearly the leader, loves to write and put on plays, strange twists on old fables. DI Edgar Stephens is given the case.

Love the feelin
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A snowy 1950's Brighton sets the scene for Smoke and Mirrors. DI Edgar Stephens is tasked with finding two missing children. His friend Max Mephisto is headlining in the local panto Aladdin, but the real headlines are all about the children, in what becomes known as the Hansel and Gretel case. DI Stephens has plenty of leads and suspects to follow, but parallels are being drawn with a similar case in 1912, where some of those people present at that time are also in evidence here in Brighton. Coi ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
DI Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto are back in Smoke and Mirrors, book two in the Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto series!

This time, two children disappear and are later found dead. Has the murder of children something to do with the fact that the girl Annie used to write gruesome plays? Is there something in the last script that got the two children killed or has it something to do with a killing that took place around 30 years before.

The first book in this series introduced us to DI Edgar St
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second in the author's Stephens & Max Mephisto mystery series. The hand-wringing style, slow pacing, and lack of tension of the first book, The Zig Zag Girl, continues in this book. Set in Brighton just before Christmas 1951, two children are missing and then a third is abducted. DI Edgar Stephens and his sargeants, Emma and Bob, are completely stymied. Max, Edgar's best friend who he met during the war, is an actor in a pantomime appearing at the end of a pier, but doesn't reall ...more
Susan Johnson
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Famed magician Max Mephisto returns to Brighton to star in a local production of "Aladdin" at Christmastime 1951. His former service friend, Detective Edgar Stephens, is investigating the disappearance of two children. The two children, 12 and 13, write, star and produce plays for an even younger acting troupe and are very bright and clever. The children are currently producing a play based on "Hansel and Gretel" with quite a twist.

There is no good news on the search though and the children ar
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in wintery 1950’s Brighton, this is the second story to feature DCI Stephens and he’s actor friend Max Mephisto.

After the bodies of two dead children are uncovered in the snow, Stephens is convinced that there’s a fairytale connection as the only clue to the murderer is a pile of sweets next to the body.
Very reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel...

I love the blend of mystery and theatre in this series, whilst also invoking a real feel for the era.
I could really feel Max’s frustration of being a s
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the 3rd book I have read by Elly Griffiths and I found this one to be the best yet.
The other 2 books I read 'The Zig Zag Girl' and 'The Ghost Fields' had lots of promise and both started excellently but just failed in my opinion to sustain the thrill and excitement they initially promised. This book however not only started well but kept me on the edge of my seat to the very end.

This is the 2nd book in the DI Stephens & Max Mephisto series, following 'The Zig Zag Girl', but would equ
I would list Elly Griffiths as one of my favorite authors. I would elbow someone in a book store to purchase the most recent book in the Ruth Galloway series but this one for me did not hold quite the same magic.
Alex Cantone
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Devil’s Dyke was a beauty spot on the outskirts of Hove, a soaring stretch of downland that must have been used as a beacon and gathering place from the days when the first prehistoric farmers started to clear the land. Archaeologists had found the remains of an Iron Age hill fort and a Bronze-Age cemetery. In Victorian times there had been a funfair and a funicular railway. But the Dyke was also a lonely and ill-starred location…

The second in the series of police procedurals with a theatrical t
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
What a real pleasure to get an advanced copy of Smoke and Mirrors through Net Galley and only have to give an honest review in return.
As a fan of Elly Griffiths you may sense an impartial review coming however it isn’t a given since this is the second novel in her magic men series and her justified reputation is based on her Ruth Galloway series. Therefore, buyer beware, this is Elly’s follow-up to The Zig Zag Girl and is again set in Brighton in the UK during the 50’s.
That many of her cast of c
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smoke and Mirrors is the second book in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by British author, Elly Griffiths. Brighton, late November, 1951, and it’s snowing. On the West Pier, the pantomime, Aladdin is in rehearsal, with Max Mephisto starring. But his army friend, DI Edgar Stephens hasn’t time to see the show, or even to socialise: a girl and boy are missing, and the families are understandably frantic. Worst fears are realised when their bodies are discovered in the snow, surrounded, biz ...more
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling

My View:
I am so loving this series. Great characters that you want to learn more about and empathise with. The characters are so visual, so real, I have pictures of them in my head. The narrative is page turning and so very sad but not morose. Human nature is explored, lies revealed. A great read. I can wait for the next in this series.
Carla Johnson-Hicks
This is the second in the DI Edgar Stephens and Magician Max Mephisto series. They have been friends since their stint in Norway as The Magic Men in WW2. As a child I read all the fairytales and never realized how dark and creepy they really were. This is a dark and creepy story that centres around the darkest of fairytales about wicked stepmothers, fathers discarding their children, wishing so hard for a child that it is only half human and the kidnapping and murder by evil witches.

It is Novem
Bruce Hatton
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-crime
Just two books into this series and I'm already beginning to enjoy Edgar and Max's adventures almost as much as those of Ruth Galloway and her chums. This one takes place just over a year after Zig Zag Girl during a particularly severe winter in December 1951. It's pantomime season and Max is starring in "Aladdin" whilst Edgar has the daunting task of finding the murderer of two young children.
I loved the way the novel delved into the dark Gothic fairytales that pantomimes are based on and how t
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A wonderful old-fashioned type crime novel in which a trio from Brighton Police - DI Edgar Stephens aided by Sergeant Bob Willis and Sergeant Emma Holmes - investigate the disappearance of two schoolchildren. The search for the missing pair has a tragic outcome as DI Stephens and his 2 sergeants discover a tangle of clues involving old fairy tales and disturbing plays written by one of the missing children. As their leads take them down various blind alleys, another child vanishes and it becomes ...more
Oh noes!!!!! I loved The Zig Zag Girl, the first in this series, but with Smoke and Mirrors I’ve finally read an Elly Griffiths book that did not impress me!

Okay, where to start with my issues…

I always check out other people’s reviews after I finish writing my own and I did notice a lot of (obviously older) reviews mentioned The Zig Zag Girl was not part of a series. Now, a few years have passed by, and it has three sequels. I have to wonder if Griffiths never meant to write anything more with
Cindy Burnett
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
Smoke and Mirrors was a very entertaining read. I am a huge fan of Elly Griffiths other series, the Ruth Galloway mysteries, and was really excited to read this one. I did not read the first in the series yet though I have it on my bookshelf. I had no trouble picking up the story with Smoke and Mirrors and didn’t feel like anything was confusing because I had not read the first one in the series.

The main story takes place in Brighton, England in 1951. Two children disappear and are subsequently
Bev Taylor
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
brighton in the winter of 1951 and 2 missing children r found dead in the snow - strangled and with the scene resembling a fairy tale

edgar stephens is leading the investigation and it appears that the girl is addicted to the theatre and writing stories - but these fairy tales do not have a happy ending

he is joined by his friend max who is playing in the local panto and it soon appears clear that the people within the company could either be linked, have dubious stories ro secrets to hide. plus
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.

The flow is so good and the characters seem very real and often likeable. They seemed like people of the time without being cliche. Same with the world they lived in.

And the plottwist, oh my, I did not see that coming. Which is why I won't say more about this story. Suffice to say though if you like good thrillers that stay away from tropes then you will likely love this book as well. I hope so at least.
Liz Barnsley
Having absolutely adored “The Zig Zag Girl” I was really pleased when another adventure for Max and Edgar dropped through my door – and I was not disappointed. Once again the mixture of magic and murder makes for an addictive and fun read despite the dark undertone to this particular tale dealing as it does with missing children.

Brighton 1951 and Max is doing Panto….Edgar meanwhile is desperately trying to track down two missing children who seem to have vanished into thin air. Sadly there is no
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
A highly readable atmospheric crime thriller, with a great sense of time and place.

A double murder is committed as pantomime season is in full swing in Brighton in the 1950s.

Somehow the two are connected and DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate.

Assisting Stephens is Max, one of the pantomime’s stars who served with Stephens in a shadowy, secret unit called the Magic Men, formed to use stage trickery to confuse the enemy.

This is the second book by Elly Griffiths to feature the “M
I've loved Griffiths' Ruth Galloway mysteries, but this was my first of her Brighton-set series. (I've now reserve the first title). Set in 1951 with a real feel for time and place (rationing of food and fuel, no telephones in all the houses, etc.), the theatre setting (Max Mephisto, a magician, helps DCI Edgar Stephens solve cases) and the fairy tale theme (the murdered teen wrote plays with fairy tale themes, dark and gritty) were all draws for me. Two children, 12 and 13, are found murdered i ...more
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Magician Max Mephisto is performing in a Christmas pantomime, and his unlikely friend, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens, is searching for two lost children, although Stephens believes in his heart that they are dead. Max finds connections between the cast of the pantomime and a murder that took place in 1912 (the book is set in 1951), and Stephens and his team are willing to look for any clue to a mysterious and sinister puzzle. This did not have the mind-boggling suspense of the first in the ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the second in a crime/mystery series set in 1950's Brighton.

I enjoyed this more than the first - probably because I know the characters now and the story came together a lot more smoothly because of that.

I like the combo of straight-laced policeman and ostentatious magician.

I will certainly be reading more in this entertaining series.
Smoke and Mirrors is the second book in the Magic Men Mysteries, following the successful The Zig Zag Girl. This second entry seals the deal for me that Elly’s new series is another favorite. As an ardent fan of the Ruth Galloway series, I started this new series with a bit of trepidation. Could I really love another series by this favorite author as much as the first? Well, apparently, the answer is an unqualified yes. The smooth writing, the great plotting, and the fascinating characters whose ...more
Sid Nuncius
Dec 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I didn't get on as well with Smoke And Mirrors as most other people seem to have done. The story is set in Brighton in 1951 where Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and his two sergeants are investigating the disappearance of two children. Stephens's old friend, the stage magician Max Mephisto is appearing in pantomime there, and this forms the backdrop to a somewhat convoluted, almost Agatha Christie-esque investigation.

Elly Griffiths writes quite decent prose, but the whole thing felt a bit st
Colin Mitchell
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
My actual start date on this one was 11 June but forgot to put it on. Naughty old Colin.

The second in the Stephens and Mephisto series finds Max Mephisto appearing in Pantomime on the pier at Brighton, his friend from war time service, set during 1951 DI Stephens is investigating the disappearance and then murder of two young children. The story seeks to make us believe that the theatre is where Ed Stephens should be seeking his killer but is this just slight of hand? Well crafted plot that zipp
Fairy tales are fucking creepy and I liked how much this leaned into that.
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He's behind you...!!

In the midst of heavy snowfall in the winter of 1951 in Brighton, two young children are missing. Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and his team are desperately searching but as time passes and temperatures plummet below zero, hope is beginning to fade. And Edgar's worst fears are realised when the children are found dead on Devil's Dyke, with sweets strewn in the snow around them. Annie and Mark had been best friends for years, with Annie as the leader and Mark a willing fo
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Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton. Though not her first novel, The Crossing Places is her first crime novel.

Other books in the series

Stephens & Mephisto Mystery (5 books)
  • The Zig Zag Girl (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #1)
  • The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #3)
  • The Vanishing Box (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #4)
  • Now You See Them