Brighton, 1951. Pantomime season is in full swing on the snowy pier, with Max Mephisto starring in Aladdin. But Max's headlines have been stolen by the disappearance of two local children. With fairy tales in the air, it's not long before the press have found a nickname for the case: 'Hansel and Gretel'.
DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate. The missing girl, Annie, used to write plays and perform them with her friends. Does the clue lie in Annie's unfinished - and rather disturbing - last script? Or might it lie with the eccentric theatricals who have assembled for the pantomime?
For Stan (aka the Great Diabolo), who's also appearing in Aladdin, the case raises more personal memories. Back before the Great War, he witnessed the murder of a young girl while he was starring in another show, an event which has eerie parallels to the current case.
Once again Edgar enlists Max's help in penetrating the shadowy theatrical world that seems to hold the key. But with both distracted by their own personal problems, neither can afford to miss a trick. For Annie and her friend, time is running out....
©2015 Elly Griffiths (P)2015 WF Howes Ltd