Now You See Them
This crime novel unites characters from earlier books in Griffiths’ Brighton Mysteries series, but can satisfyingly be read as a standalone. It is 1963. Edgar Stephens has been promoted to Superintendent and is married to his former sergeant, Emma Holmes. At the funeral of a friend, Edgar is reunited with his wartime comrade the magician Max Mephisto, who now has a career in Hollywood. His eldest daughter Ruby, Edgar’s former fiancée, has her own show on British television. A schoolgirl disappears from her boarding school, apparently in pursuit of a pop star, and her vocal and well-connected father harries the police to find her. However, two other young women have also vanished, but without anyone powerful to speak up for them – a nurse and a Modette from a troubled background. Then one of them is found strangled. Edgar heads the investigation, but his wife, Emma, who was obliged to quit the force on marriage, longs to be involved, and it is when she steps in (without consulting Edgar) that the breakthrough comes, though not in the way Emma would have wished.
This is a fluent and pacy story, and in keeping with the genre, the solution is the one least expected. The only anachronism I could spot is a minor one: the London Dungeon attraction was not opened until 1974, but the setting of running battles between Mods and Rockers, and the conventions and restrictions of the time, are vividly evoked (women police officers not being allowed to drive police cars, for instance). This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, with well-rounded, humanly flawed characters the reader will root for.