The Zig Zag Girl is a murder mystery novel by Elly Griffiths, set in the 1950s in Brighton, England. The novel is the first in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series and follows the investigation of a murder that appears to be inspired by a magic trick.
The novel opens with Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens being called to investigate the discovery of a body in three pieces that have been left in three different locations. The victim is identified as Lily Burtenshaw, a former magician’s assistant, who was the inspiration for the Zig Zag Girl trick, which involves a woman being cut into three pieces and then put back together.
As the investigation begins, Stephens is assisted by Max Mephisto, a famous magician who performed the Zig Zag Girl trick with the victim many years ago. As they delve deeper into the case, they discover that the victim’s former colleagues, including a group of magicians who served together during the war, are all suspects.
Stephens and Mephisto interview several of Lily’s former colleagues, but they are unable to determine a motive for the murder. As they continue to investigate, they discover that the victim’s life was shrouded in secrets and lies, and that she had been involved in a complex web of relationships with her former colleagues.
As the investigation progresses, Stephens and Mephisto are forced to confront their own complicated pasts and relationships. Stephens struggles with his feelings for his former lover, Emma Holmes, who is now married to his colleague, Bob Willis. Meanwhile, Mephisto is haunted by memories of his time as a soldier in the war.
As the detectives continue to investigate, they uncover a series of clues that lead them to the identity of the murderer. The murderer is revealed to be someone with a personal vendetta against Lily, and who was seeking revenge for a perceived betrayal.
The novel concludes with the killer being brought to justice, but not before Stephens and Mephisto confront their own demons and secrets. The Zig Zag Girl is a well-crafted murder mystery that combines classic detective fiction with the world of magic and illusion. It is a compelling read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.