I've just read the first four books in this series, back-to-back, so to get my hands on this one was an absolute treat! I love Elly's books but I can't decide whether I love her Dr Ruth Galloway series best or this one. Do I have to choose?!!
The first four books in the Brighton Mysteries were set in the 1950s and many of the ongoing plot strands were resolved in the fourth book. Now You See Them is almost a reboot, in that we rejoin the characters nine years later. Some of them are no longer with us (I won't say who, but noooo!) but there are several new characters introduced. If you haven't read the others in the series, you could start with this one.
Now You See Them is set in Brighton in 1963. Edgar Stephens has been promoted to Superintendent and is married to Detective Sergeant Emma Holmes. They have three children and Emma has given up her career. Ed's wartime 'Magic Men' colleague Max Mephisto, a music hall magician, is a Hollywood film star but returns to Britain for the funeral of one of their old friends. Edgar, Emma and Max swiftly become involved in the case of a missing schoolgirl, which ends up being a little too close to home.
At first I was grumpy that the series had skipped nine years (and that my favourite character had been killed off!) but I was immediately caught up in the story about three young women who go missing, one after the other, with apparently nothing to connect them. I loved the new characters, WPC Meg Connolly, who is frustrated that she gets all the boring jobs because she's a woman, and female reporter Sam (who we originally met in The Vanishing Box; she has a bigger part to play here) who is similarly frustrated. Female empowerment is an ongoing theme, because Emma has realised that living happily ever after with the man she loves is starting to feel a bit...dull...and longs for the excitement that she once had working for the police.
As well as writing a entertaining mystery (I am never able to work out the villain!) Elly's particular skill is to create brilliant, totally believable characters. She writes with humour and her stories are well-researched with lots of amazing detail. The way Now You See Them ended makes me hope there might be another one coming along soon?
One of my favourite reads this year, Now You See Them is recommended for anyone who loves historical mysteries and the kind of murder mystery that has a puzzle to solve but isn't too violent.
Thank you to Elly Griffiths and Quercus for my copy of this book, which I requested via NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.