The Blood Card: Book summary and reviews of The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths

The Blood Card

Magic Men Mysteries

by Elly Griffiths

The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths X
The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2017
    384 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

In the third Magic Men mystery, the first partially set in America, a threat of mass violence looms over Elizabeth II's coronation: Can DI Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto crack the case and save the crown?

Elizabeth II's coronation is looming, but DI Edgar Stephens is busy investigating the death of a local fortuneteller. Meanwhile, his old pal, the magician Max Mephisto, is rehearsing for his television debut, a Coronation Day variety show. But upon hearing that their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, has been found dead in his flat, the two men join forces to find out what happened. 

While Max is stuck in rehearsals, Edgar finds himself heading to New York, hot on the trail of a mesmerist he's sure has valuable information for them - and his trusty sergeant, Emma, investigates some important leads at home. As the clock ticks down to Coronation Day, the team must scramble to keep Max's small-screen debut from ending in a dangerously explosive finale.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Griffiths excels at depicting the post-WWII transition from variety shows to television. A love triangle involving Holmes, Stephens, and aspiring magician Ruby French, the detective's fiancée and Mephisto's daughter, adds a human interest angle likely to engage both series fans and new readers." - Publishers Weekly

"Amusing, atmospheric, and thoroughly engaging, providing an insightful look at vaudeville and the art of legerdemain. Perfect for fans of the eccentric (and often endearing) characters created by Simon Brett and Christopher Fowler." - Booklist

"In the third case for the Magic Men (Smoke and Mirrors, 2016, etc.), half the fun is the journey through postwar England to the surprising denouement." - Kirkus

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Cloggie Downunder

excellent historical crime fiction
The Blood Card is the third book in the Stephens and Mephisto Mystery series by British author, Elly Griffiths. It’s May, 1953 and the former Magic Men are busy with their lives; DI Edgar Stephens is investigating the death of gypsy fortune-teller, Madame Zabini (Doreen Barton) in Brighton; magician Max Mephisto is performing at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.

They’re puzzled to be summoned to Whitehall by General Petre, even more so when he explains they are to look into the murder of their former CO, Colonel Peter Cartwright. Certain things about the murder scene have led Petre to call them in: a playing card left on the body; a newspaper cutting about an American mesmerist; and a 1939 Liverpool Empire playbill.

Petre stresses urgency: there is a threat to the imminent coronation of the new Queen. Max makes an international phone call which yields only a cryptic clue. Ed is sent to Albany, NY, arrives too late for his purpose, is almost the victim of a hit-and-run driver and has his motel room ransacked.

Back in Brighton, DS Emma Holmes is keeping a close eye on the Barton family when it transpires there may be a connection to Cartwright’s murder. Soon enough, Max and Ed conclude that all is not as it seems with the now-elusive General Petre, and the connection between the two deaths strengthens.

Griffiths gives the reader characters that are real and flawed; some are vain and selfish; others distracted by misdirection and convinced by illusion. Her plot is clever and original and has a few twists that even the most astute reader may fail to anticipate. The atmosphere of post-war Britain is skilfully evoked with description, dialogue and the attitudes common at the time.

The immediate post-war era ensures the absence of mobile phones, internet, DNA and even many personal vehicles; thus the detective work relies on heavily on legwork, personal visits and intelligent deduction.

Before the puzzles are solved and the murderers apprehended, there are communists, mafiosi and anarchists to investigate, there is arson, assault and attempted kidnapping, a bomb has to be defused on live TV and a knife thrower saves a young magician. Ed’s short stay in America is quite entertaining, and there are plenty of unresolved situations to draw the reader to the next book, The Vanishing Box. Excellent Historical crime fiction.

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Author Information

Elly Griffiths Author Biography

Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Brighton mystery series, as well as the standalone novels The Stranger Diaries, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and The Postscript Murders. She is the recipient of the CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in Brighton, England.

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