Wednesday, March 16, 2022

ARC Review: Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock & Skeleton Key

Gigi Pandian
Series: Secret Staircase Mysteries
Publication: Minotaur Books (March 15, 2022)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: I have very mixed feelings about this story. There were quite a few positives including the strong relationships among Tempest Raj and her family. The setting was great. I really enjoyed all the various puzzles that were part of Tempest's family home. I enjoyed the loving descriptions of all the various foods prepared by Tempest's grandfather. Vegans will be glad that the book includes recipes.

I also enjoyed all the references to Golden Age mysteries and magicians. The Locked Room Library is a place I would love to visit. 

There were also a number of things that I didn't especially enjoy. I'm all for a twisty plot but this one was a bit over-the-top for me. Misdirection upon misdirection made the plot confusing. I also had some problems with the keeping the large numbers of cast straight. I felt like I had entered on book 2 of a series where all these people had been introduced previously. 

The basic story seems to be that magician Tempest Raj has come back home after her career in Las Vegas was sabotaged by her assistant Cassidy. She nearly died in a stunt gone wrong. She lost all her money and her career. Now, it looks like her problems have followed her home when the body of that assistant is found in a secret room in what is the latest project of her father's Secret Staircase company.

Tempest wants to figure out the trick of the locked room and, incidentally, who murdered Cassidy. Did someone mistake Cassidy for Tempest? Is this another incidence of the Raj family curse that has killed the oldest child in each of five generations?

Fans of magic-infused and twisty mysteries will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
"This is how magicians fool people. Not the technical sleight of hand. But the psychology of it. Distracting the audience with misdirection. Relying on their imagination to fill in the blanks."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love getting comments. Let me know what you think.

This blog is now officially declared an Award Free zone! I do appreciate your kindness in thinking of me and I am humbled by your generosity.

Your comments are award enough for me. Comment away!