Tuesday, March 14, 2023

ARC Review: The Raven Thief by Gigi Pandian

The Raven Thief

Gigi Pandian
Series: Secret Staircase Mysteries (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books (March 21, 2023)

Description: Multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian is one of the best locked room mystery writers working today. Her newest heroine, Tempest Raj, returns in The Raven Thief, where sliding bookcases, trick tables, and hidden reading nooks hide something much more sinister than the Secret Staircase Construction crew ever imagined.

One murder. Four impossibilities. A fake séance hides a very real crime.

Secret Staircase Construction just finished their first project with Tempest Raj officially a part of the team―a classic mystery novel-themed home interior. Their client is now ready to celebrate her new life without her cheating ex-husband, famous mystery author Corbin Colt. First up, a party, and Tempest and Grandpa Ash are invited to the exclusive mock séance to remove any trace of Corbin from the property―for good. It's all lighthearted fun until Corbin's dead body crashes the party.

The only possible suspects are the eight people around the séance table―a circle of clasped hands that wasn't broken. Suspicion quickly falls on Grandpa Ash, the only one with actual blood on him. To prove her beloved grandfather’s innocence, Tempest must figure out what really happened―and how―or Ash will be cooking his delectable Indian and Scottish creations nevermore.

My Thoughts: The second Secret Staircase Mystery has Tempest involved in solving a real puzzle. When she is invited to a mock seance to remove all traces of their client's cheating ex-husband, she doesn't expect to find him appearing dead in the middle of the table where the seance was held when he was supposed to be fifty miles away at the time. When her Grandfather Ash is arrested as the murder's prime suspect, Tempest and her friends need to figure out what really happened and how Corbin Colt's body ended up on that table.

I liked the way classic mysteries from the Golden Age were woven into the story. I really liked the idea of a company that creates "magical' renovations complete with sliding bookshelves and hidden compartments. I liked the way Tempest used her background as a stage magician to figure out how the trick was done.

I liked the quirky characters and the strong family relationships among the Rajs. I'm curious to know if Tempest will find a romantic partner as the series progresses because there are two good suspects among her group of friends. I liked that the on-going thread begun in UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY which concerns the death of her aunt, and the disappearance of mother makes some progress in this episode. 

While I would recommend starting with book 1 to learn who these characters are, this book does stand alone quite well. 

Favorite Quote:
"That's the one thing I never understood about so many of those puzzle-plot classic mysteries. I love their clever plots, but there needs to be an answer to why someone would go to such effort."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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