“Clever, immensely likeable . . . Captivating . . . Old-fashioned in the best ways.” —Wall Street Journal
“Labyrinthine . . . Superb . . . This is thoroughly enjoyable.” —Guardian, “Best Crime Novels Round-Up”
Brighton, 1950. A girl is found cut into three pieces. Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is convinced the killer is mimicking a famous magic trick—the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old war friend of Edgar’s. They served in a special ops troop called the Magic Men that used stage tricks to confound the enemy. Max still performs, touring seaside towns with ventriloquists, sword-swallowers, and dancing girls. When Edgar asks for his help with the case, he tells him to identify the victim quickly; it takes a special sidekick to do the Zig Zag Girl—words that haunt Max when he learns the dead girl is Ethel, one of his best assistants to date.
Another death, another magic trick, and still no killer. But when Edgar receives a letter warning of another “trick” on the way—the Wolf Trap—he knows the Magic Men are in the killer’s sights.