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The Blood Card

The Brighton Mysteries, Book 3
Narrated by: Luke Thompson
Series: The Brighton Mysteries, Book 3
Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

On the eve of the Queen's coronation, DI Stephens and Max Mephisto uncover an anarchist plot and a ticking bomb at the same time as solving the murder of a man close to them - from the author of the best-selling Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries.

Elizabeth II's coronation is looming, but the murder of their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, spoils the happy mood for DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. A playbill featuring another deceased comrade is found in Colonel Cartwright's possession, and a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card. The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic are enough for him to put Stephens and Mephisto on the case.

Edgar's on-going investigation into the death of Brighton fortune-teller Madame Zabini is put on hold. Max is busy rehearsing for a spectacular Coronation Day variety show - and his television debut - so it's Edgar who is sent to New York, a land of plenty, worlds away from still-rationed England. He's on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key, but someone else silences him first.

It's Edgar's colleague, DS Emma Holmes who finds the clue, buried in the files of the Zabini case, that leads them to an anarchist group intent on providing an explosive finale to Coronation Day.

Now it's up to Edgar, Max and Emma to foil the plot and find out who it is who's been dealing the cards....

©2016 Elly Griffiths (P)2016 Quercus Publishing Ltd
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Better than book 2

I wasn’t that keen on the second book in Griffiths’ Stephens & Mephisto series but I was still interested enough to keep reading on. So, did I think Griffiths redeemed herself with number three? Well…

The mystery plot started out good. One of Max and Edgar’s war time colleagues is found dead, murdered. Next to the body is an old playbill and a playing card. Although the crime wasn't really Edgar’s jurisdiction, an army general asks he and Max to look into the murder and this has Ed flitting off to the US to follow up on a lead. The American scenes are so much fun, exploring the modern developments that were becoming more commonplace in 1953 (cars, planes and televisions especially) as well as the differences between the US and UK cultures overall.

Meanwhile, seemingly unrelated, a gypsy woman’s body is found. The woman's family refuses to believe she has committed suicide and, with Edgar in America, it’s up to Emma to investigate. As much as I like Emma as a character I, again, find it difficult to believe a female police officer would be given so much responsibility in the 50s.

The time setting did allow Griffiths to intertwine the Queen’s coronation into her plot. The threat to disrupt the day was clever but I did maybe think some of the tension didn’t work for me because I already knew Lizzie would make it through the day unharmed. How the English public was reacting to the day was an entertaining part of the book though.

I also thought Griffiths was clever in using issues which are still relevant in the 2010s, especially America’s lack of gun control and the threat of terrorism. It was interesting to see the different way the public and police handled what were essentially terrorist threats in the book.

Griffiths included Max’s knowledge of theatre into the storyline but overall, however, Max is used much too sparingly. When he does appear, it’s usually to have thoughts about Ruby and Edgar. I would really love to see him actually doing some crime solving instead. I also missed The Great Diablo. His one scene in the book was absolutely hilarious and he should be used much more. The new gypsy character, (Tol, sorry if the spelling is incorrect as I listened on audio) I liked too, I must admit. Bob, however, could be relegated to the scrap heap.

What I didn’t like was the rushed ending to the mystery/thriller plot. The mystery was not really solved by anyone, as such, and everything was presented in one huge info dump at the end. It also grated on my nerves the way characters even repeated the key points (usually telling other characters what had happened) as if the reader was dumb and might not have understood something.

The ending to a couple of the Ruth Galloway books had similar problems but I think it didn’t bother me as much with those as I was always caught up in the soap opera of the characters’ personal lives. Here too, I think Griffiths tried to distract the reader away from the weak wrap up of the mystery plot by focusing on Emma and Edgar’s personal lives. Unlike in the Ruth books, I’m unsure how I feel about this romantic storyline. As a rule, I'm not a big love triangle fan. I somehow tolerate the Ruth/Nelson/Michelle one but this time around I’m just thinking Griffiths should have presented me with something new. The domesticity of Max’s relationship with Mrs M is much more fun and actually quite sweet, for example.

Again, I’ll probably still read the next in the series but I’m far from being smitten. There just seems to be some vital ingredient missing but I can’t seem to put my finger on what, especially given the way Griffiths follows almost the exact same formula in these books as she does in the Ruth ones which I adore.

I must mention I listened to the audio version of the book and didn’t really like the narrator. It distracted me how many times the three leads - Max, Edgar and Emma - changed their accents/voices/tones. Minor characters, I can understand but I would like the three leads to have some consistency.

I've rated this one 3 1/2, which is 1/2 star more than book two.

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  • Alexander James Hawley (Hawley Reviews)
  • 07-06-2017

Mephisto gets his 3rd outing

What did you like about this audiobook?

As this is the 3rd book it was finding out about what happened to the characters.

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

The genre is one that I regularly read and I was encouraged to read it after Elly Griffiths was given the role of Chair at the Harrogate Crime Festival 2017. I would have read this anyway at some point.

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

1. Question is not gender neutral and incorrectly describes it as a male.
2. The book is a work of fiction so the role of the author is to provide a world to escape to and not present knowledge in the way presumed.

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

Nothing overly wrong with it, just that it was a different narrator to the previous 2 books which spoilt it a bit.

Do you have any additional comments?

When setting these questions it would have been nice for the original questions to be saved or an option to save the review.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 17-11-2016

Another good book by Elly

Storyline was good, well written and well narrated. Only down side was that the recording had 3 parts where the narrative jumped as if a CD had skipped.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sue
  • 19-04-2017

Brilliant but recording flawed

I can't recommend the story highly enough for its twists and turns as well as its denouement but unfortunately silence reigns in several places leaving you wondering what you are missing.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Samima
  • 17-11-2016

Another highly entertaining Stephens and Mephistopheles story.

I loved the characters, the setting: the 1950s, Brighton and central London. Great plot tying into the past, both of the magic men, but also references to WW2 history.

The narrator was ok with everything except the female character voices which all sounded a bit silly. And there are a lot of women in this book. It didn't quite spoil it for me. But I would probably read the next book on Kindle

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer Chennell
  • 11-04-2017

not as good as the others..

if your looking for a sophisticated psychology murder mystery this isn't the book for you nor are any of Ellie's books what you get for your money is a jolly good romp though a average who dunnit with characters you can't help but like and want to know better... a grown up Enid Blyton..

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bex
  • 27-02-2017

The curse of the phone effect

Another great story from Elly Griffiths but pleeeeease, whoever makes these decisions, STOP DOING THE 'ON THE PHONE' EFFECT. It's absolutely awful, it really grates and is so distracting.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • linerup
  • 08-06-2020

So Entertaining ....

Such likeable characters - each with their own idiosyncrasies.... humour, self doubt, strength ... individual clues/off shoots are woven together to make the main story, which Elly Griffiths brings together at the end, always surprising one. The pace increases so that the action at the end is fast paced and exciting... brilliantly narrated. An excellent read.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kirstine
  • 01-01-2019

An intricate and engaging mystery story

I've only recently got into this series and think the author has really got into her stride with this third book having created a web of intersecting strands involving magic, gypsy culture, various variety acts, an anarchist plot, the birth of television all with the backdrop of the Coronation in June 1953. The main characters are now well-established and, rather like the Ruth Galloway series, hearing about their lives forms much of the narrative. It's an imaginative and highly enjoyable book that brings back memories of the 1950s.

Like another reviewer my only criticism is over the recording that has too many phone conversations where one side has very poor sound, authentic but very annoying.

I'm glad to say that the new narrator does a grand job.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-2018

the blood card

very well narrated. great characters. story engrossing but ended a bit abruptly. presumably we will find out why in the next episode?

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Rosie Gosden
  • 13-07-2018

Poor narration

This is the third book in the series and it is disappointing that the narrator is different from the first two. The change in accents was extremely irritating, making characters sound rather stupid and unintelligent. The story was very rambling and far fetched. Sadly this is the first story by Elly Griffith’s that I haven’t really enjoyed.