When two children disappear only to be found dead in the snow, surrounded by sweets, DI Edgar Stephens has the unenviable task of investigating their murder. One of the victims, Annie, was a keen writer with a particular interest in penning plays based on fairy tales – could their deaths have something to do with these macabre versions of children’s classics or is there a link to a murder that happened several decades earlier?

Smoke and Mirrors is the second in the Stephens and Mephisto series and this time we see the infamous magician, Max Mephisto, doing something he’d hoped he’d never do – playing the villain in a pantomime. His role in the theatre, though, provides his friend, Edgar, with potential leads and introduces him to several potential suspects. In this book, we begin to see Max toying with the idea of settling down – something else he never thought he would do!

Despite their best efforts, the police are struggling to break the case and when another body is found, they fear they could have a serial killer on their hands. It is fascinating reading how the police operated in the post-war era, having to rely on leg work rather than the modern technology that is in use today. Aiding Edgar in his investigation is a young female officer, Emma Holmes. Tenacious and hard-working, I grew to like her character as the book progressed and hope that she is someone who will appear in the next books in the series.

Smoke and Mirrors is a very entertaining read with an original mystery and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end.