‘The Vanishing Box’ is the 4th novel in Elly Griffiths’ series featuring DI Edgar Stephens and Magician Max Mephisto. The series is set in Brighton in the 1950s.
It is a cold Christmas and Max and his daughter Ruby are performing together in a magic act. They are the main act in a show at the Brighton Hippodrome. Another act in the show is the living tableau where young, barely clad women enact scenes from history as living statues. The Tableau act is run by the unpleasant businessman Vic Cutler.
But DI Edgar Stephens is too busy for the show and too busy for his fiancé Ruby because he has another murder to investigate. A young woman who worked in a flower shop has been murdered in her bedroom in a boarding house. Her body has been posed to resemble a painting of a famous historical event. But does this murder have anything to do with Vic Cutler and his tableau act?
Edgar and his colleagues Bob and Emma are busy investigating the murder and trying to find out if there is a link between the staged murder and the tableau act. Meanwhile, there are more murders and now the lives of those close to them are in danger.
In the background, there is a lot of action in everyone’s love lives – Max finds a new love putting an end to a long term relationship. Emma finally gets the attention of the man she loves and even the conservative Bob finds a love interest.
I enjoyed seeing everyone’s personal lives moving on in this addition to the series, especially the surprising relationships for Emma and Bob. It was also good to catch up with Edgar and Max although their personal interactions were more strained than in the past.
This series presents an excellent insight to life in the 1950s and life in variety theatres of the time. I’m looking forward to the next new novel in the series.