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  • Smoke and mirrors

    Really enjoyed this book. Have read several books by EllyGriffiths and, yet again, a jolly good "who done it ".

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  • Chilly tale in snowy 50s Brighton

    This is a darker, colder tale than the first in the series perhaps because it involves child murder, which lies at the very darkest edge of our imagination. But here again were those wonderful characters, Diablo (I'm developing a very strange crush on him) and his gloriously waspish thespian friend, the pantomime dame, and smooth, glamorous Max, the aristocratic stage magician, almost past his prime, and worried about it. In contrast is Edgar, the unflamboyant police officer, trudging again and again through freezing snow, dragging himself home exhausted to an empty flat, desperate to find the killer before another child dies. And running throughout the book is the darkness of children's stories, the ones we tell them, and the ones they tell themselves. We soften folk tales in seasonal pantomimes so all ends well and any darkness is lost in the transformation scene. But is the panto showing on the pier the source of this evil? Is the murderer here, where people can change into someone entirely different as you watch, and where there are memories of another child murder, in another pantomime, years ago? Or is there evil hidden where children should feel safest, in their schools, or even their own homes? Do the children hold the key, and are trying to communicate this in writing their plays? Elly Griffiths plays with her readers' deductive abilities to create a very intriguing and satisfying whodunnit, keeping you puzzled right up to the tense, chilly denouement. However it was sometimes marred by sloppy editing, failing to pick up grammatical errors such as confusion between the transitive and intransitive forms of 'lay'. It's a common error in the south of England, I know, but it grates on the rest of us to read of someone laying on a bed. Laying what? An egg? (There were similar errors in the first book.) There were other problems an editor ought to have noticed, for example "Denton resented Diablo for insisting that the pantomime closed after Betsy’s death". The mind flutters for a moment. Did Denton resent Diablo for closing the pantomime? Or for insisting to someone that it had closed? Eventually the mind settles, realising what was meant, but all it would have taken to avoid the momentary confusion is a change to " … that the pantomime be closed … ". Alternatively, the more old-fashioned grammar of " … that the pantomime close … " would have worked. Writers get too close to their work to spot these things, but their editor or copy editor should.

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