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The Great Deceiver by Elly Griffiths - Review

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

You know I love Elly Griffiths, so I was excited to hear there was another book in her Brighton Mysteries series. As a reminder, these centre on two members of the Magic Men, who were a secret group of magicians and others working on fooling the enemy in World War Two. Max Mephisto is still a magician, but also a film star, and also a lord. He has a daughter, Ruby, who at the beginning of this book has a baby. Edgar is now a policeman and in fact is superintendent by the time of this book, which is set in the summer of 1966. He is married to Emma and they have three children. Emma used to be a policewoman but gave it up after getting married (it was the mid 50s, after all). She is now running a private investigation agency with her friend Sam. Sam is now seeing Max, but no one knows about that. 

There are other police officers around - Bob, who actually doesn't really get a look in in this book, which is a shame, DI Barker, a proper badhead, and DI Clark, who is young and a bit of a dish I think. Then there's Meg Connolly. She's a WPC and in a previous book she had showed how good of a detective she was. She's only young so I did think that some of the stuff she did and that happened to her in this book strectched the bounds of credibility a bit, but no matter. She's from an Irish family and I did also feel like they were a bit stereotypical in this book too which annoyed me. 

So, there's a variety show in town and the magician's assistant is murdered in her lodging house. There are plenty of others from the show staying in the house, but all have alibis. The magician, Ted, is a prime suspect, but he swears he didn't do it. He turns up at Max's house in London pleading for his help. Then Emma and Sam get involved because the assistant's parents ask them to look into her death. Everyone goes to interview several old magicians, including a guy called Palgrave who is now on the telly. He sort of inhabits a Jimmy Savile role in that it's 'known' that he likes young girls and stuff like that. I didn't feel like this part of the story was done in a particularly good way, actually. It felt a bit like everyone was on the 'right' side in it in that they were condemning this person's actions... but did they do anything?

There's a similar thing that happens between DI Barker and Meg. Meg doesn't report it to her superiors which is entirely what would really have happened, especially in the sixties - even now women don't feel safe to report sexual harassment in the workplace! But everyone who learns about it is outraged and I just didn't buy how true that was. 

I did generally like the mystery surrounding the deaths in this book, but the whole thing felt a bit too pat in the end, and a bit too rushed off. For that reason I'm giving it three out of five. 

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