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Title: Under Lock & Skeleton Key
Author: Gigi Pandian
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Page Count: 341
My rating: 3 1/2 stars
About the book:
Known for her wonderfully addictive characters, multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian introduces her newest heroine in this heartfelt series debut. Under Lock & Skeleton Key layers stunning architecture with mouthwatering food in an ode to classic locked-room mysteries that will leave readers enchanted.
An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.
After a disastrous accident derails Tempest Raj’s career, and life, she heads back to her childhood home in California to comfort herself with her grandfather’s Indian home-cooked meals. Though she resists, every day brings her closer to the inevitable: working for her father’s company. Secret Staircase Construction specializes in bringing the magic of childhood to all by transforming clients’ homes with sliding bookcases, intricate locks, backyard treehouses, and hidden reading nooks.
When Tempest visits her dad’s latest renovation project, her former stage double is discovered dead inside a wall that’s supposedly been sealed for more than a century. Fearing she was the intended victim, it’s up to Tempest to solve this seemingly impossible crime. But as she delves further into the mystery, Tempest can’t help but wonder if the Raj family curse that’s plagued her family for generations—something she used to swear didn’t exist—has finally come for her.
Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is the first book of the locked room Secret Staircase Mystery series. While this is the first book of the Secret Staircase Mystery series the mystery within the book is solved so it could be read as a standalone if choosing to do so.
Tempest Raj has been working as a magician in Las Vegas but lost her job when wrongly accused so she has headed back to her childhood home in California. The home Tempest grew up in is unique to say the least with her family owning Secret Staircase Construction which specializes in hidden and intricate home designs which of course compose their own home.
As Tempest is just settling in back in California she goes for a visit to her father’s latest project. Things become complicated for Tempest though when a body is found inside of the project, a body that looks suspiciously like her former stage double. With an obvious murder occuring that looks like it may have been directed at Tempest herself she decides they need to find the killer fast.
Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is sort of a cozy mystery but it doesn’t fit all the way into the cozy mold being just slightly different which wasn’t a bad thing. The characters are diverse and the theming was certainly unique with the out of the ordinary constructions. There’s also some some food talk too of Indian and Scottish origins with recipes included at the end. This first book was a lot of character building which for me moves a little slower getting used to the new series so I rated this one three and a half stars and would definitely be interested in returning.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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GIGI PANDIAN is a USA Today bestselling and multi award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. She’s the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India, and spent her childhood traveling around the world on their research trips. She now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the backyard garden.
Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and the forthcoming Secret Staircase mysteries, starting with Under Lock & Skeleton Key. Her debut novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a Best of 2012 Debut by Suspense Magazine, and her mysteries have been awarded the Anthony, Agatha, Rose, Lefty, and Derringer awards.