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The Vanishing Box

(Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #4)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  512 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
DI Edgar Stephens and the magician Max Mephisto discover once again that the line between art, life, and death is all too easily blurred.

It's the holiday season and Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby have landed a headlining gig at the Brighton Hippodrome, the biggest theater in the city, an achievement only slightly marred by the less-than-savory supporting act: a tablea
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published November 2nd 2017)
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Jennie Amazon says Oct 31, 2017, which must be the UK release date. Elsewhere, it says Oct 9, 2018.
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I really love this period crime series from Elly Griffiths featuring magician Max Mephisto and DI Edgar Stephens, close friends after serving as The Magic Men during the war. This is the fourth in the series, set in 1953. Max and his daughter, Ruby, are headlining at the Brighton Hippodrome in a variety show that features a controversial female nude tableau act run by Vic Cutler, deemed unseemly by so many and attracting considerable prurient interest. At a boarding house run by Edna and Norris, ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens was looking at a dead body. He had seen death before, of course, in the war as well as in his police work but there was something about this corpse that made it especially disturbing. It wasn't just the stench that sent his Sargeant, Bob Willis, retching to the window. It wasn't just that the deceased was young, blonde and - even in the late stages of rigor mortis - beautiful. It was the way the body had been found. Lily Burtenshaw was kneeling on a to ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I started to read Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway series several years ago and I quite liked reading about an archaeologist involved in murder cases. So, when the first book in the Stephens & Mephisto Mystery was released was I curious to see how this series, set in the 50s would be. And, there is something quite pleasant and different with a crime series with a policeman and magician as "partners". Well, it's not like they work together, Max and Edgar were in the army together and now Edgar's ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, crime
Staging a murder...

It's a cold and snowy December in the Brighton of 1953, and magician Max Mephisto has top billing in the variety show at the Hippodrome, along with his new stage partner, his daughter Ruby. Ruby's fiancé, DI Edgar Stephens, has to put his plans to see the show on hold when a girl is found murdered in one of the many boarding houses in this seaside resort. Nineteen-year-old Lily Burtenshaw has been found strangled, with her body carefully posed to resemble a famous event from h
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the ARC

I fully enjoyed spending some time in Brighton's 1950's.
The story moves between the historic Hippodrome Variety Hall and a crowded boarding house and gives a good insight in community life at the time. The characters are quirky and fun despite the turnmoil they find themselves in. The mystery runs almost to the end of the book before revealing itself, leaving the reader guessing all the way.
The Vanishing Box is a pleasantly paced, wel
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As many will be aware, Elly Griffiths has two book series in publication, The Ruth Galloway stories and this series, Stephens and Mephisto. I have been collecting most of both series’ over time but this is the first of the Stephens and Mephisto I have read – and I’m jumping in at book 4! Why do I do this to myself!

Although I will definitely go back and read the previous books in the series, because I enjoyed this one so much, I didn’t actually feel at a huge disadvantage by not reading the other
Bruce Hatton
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-crime
I've been hooked on this series since the first book The Zig Zag Girl and this, the fourth in the series, is probably the most engrossing and thrilling yet. Taking place in the run up to Christmas 1953, DI Edgar Stephens finds his latest case (the murder of a young florist) has theatrical connections, so he naturally turns to his old pal from the war years Max Mephisto for assistance.
Once again, Elly manages to capture the seedy atmosphere of post-war Brighton perfectly and there is yet another
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shopping-list
Happy Publication Day Elly Griffiths.
The Vanishing Box, the fourth novel set in post 2nd world war Brighton, has been released upon the nation. Set just before Christmas 1953 the author has produced another crime thriller against the lucious background of musical hall and variety theatre. Despite the obvious decline of such productions here Max Mephisto & his daughter Ruby are headlining the show which is playing to full houses.
The detective in these mysteries is DI Edgar Stephens as war ti
Listened to in audio format.

The Vanishing Box is the fourth book in the DCI Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto mysteries. The series is written by Elly Griffiths who writes the long running Ruth Galloway series.

The story starts with Stephen's and his sergeants Emma Holmes and Bob Willis at a murder scene. Florist Lily Burtonshaw was found murdered in her rented digs, she was found blindfolded her body posed.

Meanwhile magician Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are the headline act at the Brighton
Why have I never read this series before?! I adored this.

A review:
Susan Johnson
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
Max Mephisto is a famous magician and is friends with Edgar, a policeman in Brighton. They met in WWII when they were in a special unit doing magical illusions against Germany. Edgar is now engaged to Max's newly discovered daughter, Ruby, who is Max's assistant.

A young girl is discovered murdered in a bizarre pose in a lodging that houses theater performers. The pose is right out of one of the acts on Max's show. Then there's another murder and another. A show performer is killed and the mana
Elaine Tomasso
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to thank Netgalley and Quercus Books for an advance copy of The Vanishing Box, the fourth novel in the Stephens and Mephisto series of detective novels set in 1950s Brighton.

It's Decmber 1953 when DI Edgar Stephens and his team are called out to a murder. Lily Burtenshaw has been found strangled and posed in her boardinghouse room. Coincidentally two of Lily's fellow boarders pose naked as living statues in tableaux at the local theatre where Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are t
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
Another excellent, impeccably researched and atmospheric crime thriller from Elly Griffiths

This is the fourth outing of the “Magic Men” and it's great to be back with the rich cast of characters.

Christmas 1953. Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are headlining Brighton Hippodrome as a murder takes place in a guest house used by some of the girls in the show . Max's friend from their wartime days and Ruby's fiancee DI Edgar Stephens investigates.

Loads of strong characters here and excellent perio
Joanne Sheppard
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The latest book in Elly Griffiths' Stephens and Mephisto series, The Vanishing Box might actually be my favourite of the four. It combines a gripping and really rather dark murder mystery with a strong sense of period atmosphere and immensely likeable characters in whom, after four books, I now feel strongly invested.

It's winter in 1950s Brighton and magician Max Mephisto is topping the bill at a variety theatre, supported by his daughter Ruby, a promising magician in her own right with whom Max
Geoff. Lamb
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-library
These voyages of Max and Edgar (or Edgar and Max) are superb, none more so that this current outing, The Vanishing Box. Brighton (and Hove) in the 1950s. The characters, both main and supporting (in an opera, 'comprimario'), come alive. It may be the truest test of a novel and its characters to engage that one wants immediately the next story. This reader would much rather another Stephens & Mephisto mystery straight away than another Ruth Galloway (the latter seeming to have run its course) ...more
The U.S. publication of The Vanishing Box is not until September 2018, and my review will be posted here on GoodReads slightly before that. To see an earlier posting of this amazing new Stephens and Mephisto book, go to my reading blog
First Sentence: It was like being in a forest of frozen women.

Magician Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are headlining at the Hippodrome Theater in Brighton. DI Edgar Stephens, engaged to Ruby, is called to the murder scene of a young florist found posed and dead in her room at a boarding house. Also staying in the house are a number of young women who appear in tableaus of nearly-naked "living statues." With the murder of a tableau girl, Max joins forces with Edgar, as well as Sergeants Bob W
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries

The staged murder of a young florist reminds DI Edgar Stephens of the tableau show currently running at Brighton's Hippodrome, where his magician friend Max Mephisto and daughter Ruby are the star act.
The body of Lily Burtenshaw, the victim, has been posed to resemble a painting of the execution of Lady Jane Grey, a fact pointed out by Edgar's able detective sergeant Emma Holmes. Stephens is quick to realize two other young women in the same boarding house where the victim lived are actresses in
Liz Mc2
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The best part of this series continues to be the setting, early 1950s Brighton and variety theatre. Griffiths evokes that well and I enjoyed descriptions of the variety acts, which is good, because they took up a lot of space in this slow-moving mystery. There’s one chapter where we cut between a character walking home and another doing his magic act, and I kept waiting for something to happen but . . . no. The one character never even got home, just walked and thought.

If you can tolerate that
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s Christmas 1953 and magician Max Mephisto and his daughter, Ruby, are headlining at the Brighton Hippodrome. Among the other acts is a risqué tableau in which near-naked women pose as statues of historic figures. When beautiful florist, Lily Burtenshaw, is found strangled and posed to resemble a famous picture of Lady Jane Grey at her execution, Max’s friend and Ruby’s fiancé, DI Edgar Stephens is called in to investigate. He begins to suspect that the murderer may have some connection to th ...more
J Fearnley
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1953 in Brighton it is approaching Christmas – the lights and decorations are going up and the snow is falling. Max Mephisto and his daughter Ruby are starring at the Hippodrome. Ruby is engaged to DI Edgar Stephens. Edgar is looking forward to seeing the show when a call comes through – a young women, Lily Burtonshaw, has been found dead, strangely posed in her room at a Hove boarding house. He and his team, Sergeants Emma Holmes and Bob Willis are on the trail of a murderer.

As Edgar, Em
Puzzle Doctor
Fans of the series will enjoy this one. Full review at
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a big big fan of this author, originally of her Ruth Galloway series but now of this one too and they couldn't be more different!
Usual series rules apply - to get the best from the wonderful characters with regard to back story and development, it is best to start from book one and read in order. Even though the main story is self contained within this volume, there is an extended cast and it is always lovely when old friends pop in for whatever reason and you would miss out on that if you
Cleo Bannister
This series is so refreshing with the murders somehow far more of a puzzle than centre stage – that place belongs to the safe pair of hands which belong to DI Edgar Stephens.

The year is 1953 and the month is December and in those days snow was more or less a certain event and so the detectives have the weather to contend with as they tramp, often on foot, to the crime scene and the police station.

The book opens with the murder of a young woman at a boarding house in Brighton run by the formidabl
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elly Griffiths is one of my favorite authors. I’ve followed her Ruth Galloway series from the beginning, and now am enjoying her newest historical Stephens and Mephisto mystery which, incidentally, can be read as a stand-alone. Max Mephisto is a magician performing in variety shows, and Stephens is a policeman who served with Max during the war. The series is set in the seaside town of Brighton, England in the early 1950’s. Why was this kind young woman murdered, and what madman (or woman) set i ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley and Quercus for the ARC.

Set just before Christmas 1953, this is the fourth of the Stephens and Mephisto Mysteries. It is the first I have read, and it worked well as a standalone as enough of the backstory was given in an interesting way to make the main characters seem familiar.

The action takes place in Brighton while Max and Ruby, Magician and Daughter, are appearing at the Hippodrome.

Three murders, an attempted murder and a few related attacks take place, all involving
Max Mephisto is appearing at the Hippodrome in Brighton along with a tableaux vivant act, an excuse for nearly-naked women to appear on the stage. Two of the girls in the act are living in a theatrical boarding house where Lily, a young and beautiful employee at a flower shop, is found strangled and posed looking like a tableau herself. Naturally, Edgar, a wartime friend of Max's who is engaged to Max's newly-found daughter, is in charge of the investigation. Max himself is falling for another o ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in one go. 1950s Brighton, repertory theatre, three murders with theatrical elements, and the police part of the story (in which photography of crime scenes and the use of gloves is not taken for granted). The murderer was unexpected. By the end, quite a few changes in the romantic situations of the main characters: it will be interesting to see how this works out in the next book, if there is one.
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
This is the fourth – and possibly last – book about DI Edgar Stephens and his friend, the magician Max Mephisto. You’ll enjoy it more if you have read the others in the series, as half the charm lies in the relationships between the characters which are only sketchily filled in.

Once again we are in 1950s Brighton, where DCI Stephens and his team are investigating the murder of a local woman. Max Mephisto is also in town, appearing in a variety show at the Hippodrome alongside his daughter Ruby.
Cressida McLaughlin
I have given up trying to make Elly Griffiths’ books last more than a day. They are TOO GOOD. This one was my favourite of the Stephens and Mephisto books so far, and I hope it’s not the last! Reading one of Elly’s books makes me feel that all is right with the world. LOVED it!
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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 (4 books)
  • The Zig Zag Girl (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #1)
  • Smoke and Mirrors (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #2)
  • The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #3)