Saturday, 11 September 2021

Review: The Midnight Hour (The Brighton Mysteries #6) by Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite mystery writers and I was thrilled to receive an early copy of The Midnight Hour via NetGalley. This story is number 6 in her Brighton Mysteries, which is slightly darker than her Ruth Galloway series, and runs from 1950 to 1965 (so far!). While it is possible to enjoy this story without reading the others first, each book introduces more main characters, who all become involved in solving the mysteries, so you might find it a little confusing if you don't start with the first one (The Zig Zag Girl).

Brighton, 1965. When theatrical impresario Bert Billington is found poisoned, suspicion immediately falls on his much younger wife, ex-variety star Verity Malone. The evidence is stacked up against her; even her son thinks she did it. Exasperated by the police, Verity calls in two private detectives to clear her name: ex-police sergeant Emma Holmes and journalist Sam Collins. It soon becomes apparent that Bert had a very long list of enemies. In fact, it would be easier to find someone who didn't want to kill him...

The Midnight Hour is more light-hearted than the other Brighton Mysteries and in a similar style to Elly's recent bestseller, The Postscript Murders. Rather than DI Edgar Stephens (now a superintendent) and famous variety magician Max Mephisto solving the murders, in this book it is Emma (Edgar's wife) and Sam, with the police represented by DI Bob Willis and WPC Meg Connelly, although Emma and Meg do most of the legwork as Sam is chasing a news story in Manchester.

The Midnight Hour is set in the run up to Halloween and Elly has had a lot of fun adding spooky elements to the story. Max is working on a new film in Whitby, playing the part of Dracula's dad, and at one point Meg is convinced she's seeing a real vampire. There are also other tiny supernatural hints.

Despite the light-heartedness, there are darker moments and some serious themes are touched upon. This is the 1960s, so a reoccurring one is equality between the sexes and women's rights, along with harassment and  bullying in the workplace. As the story takes place in 1965, it also mentions the Moors Murderers. 

The Midnight Hour is probably my favourite of the series to date. I particularly liked the character of Meg (along with her eccentric family) and I hope she appears again. There are lots of red herrings; I was led up and down the garden path several times and didn't guess the identity of the murder at all.

Recommended to anyone who loves brilliantly written, fiendishly plotted murder mysteries with fabulous characters. One of my favourite reads this year.

The Midnight Hour will be published in the UK on 30th September 2021

Thank you to Elly Griffiths and Quercus for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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