Monday, March 21, 2022

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

 Under Lock and Skeleton Key

Book Summary

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

Tempest Raj returns home after someone sabotaged her last performance in Las Vegas.  Tempest has yet to prove who committed the act but until she can, her career is toast.  Her father asks her to join the family business, Secret Staircase Construction.  The business has not been the same since her mother disappeared during an act five years prior.  Tempest is hesitant to accept, but she gets drawn in when a hidden space is discovered in the latest project.  Someone hid the body of Tempest’s former stage double in a wall of the house.    Tempest cannot help but wonder if someone meant to kill her.  It also has Tempest wondering if it is her turn to fall victim to the Raj family curse.  The only way to get answers is for Tempest to channel her favorite sleuth and investigate the crime.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is the debut of A Secret Staircase Mysteries.  This is a multicultural cozy mystery.  We get to meet Tempest Raj, an illusionist along with her grandparents, father, and best friend (plus a cast of secondary characters).  Tempest has an interesting and colorful family.  I enjoyed learning about Tempest and meeting the Raj clan.  Her mother disappeared five years prior during an act.  I have to wonder what happened to her.  I hope we find out in the future (could it be part of the family curse).  There are hidden rooms, secret staircases, illusions, magic, and plenty of mouthwatering food in this cozy mystery.  There is even a secret library.  I love that Tempest’s bedroom is hidden in her home.  There are plenty of secret spaces in the Raj family's unique dwelling (or should I say dwellings).  Tempest and her best friend, Ivy grew up reading mysteries.  The author mentions some of my childhood favorites.  The whodunit has some clever parts.  I was curious how a killer could get a dead body in a hidden space that has seemingly not been opened in decades.    Tempest did a good job at investigating the crime.  The killer, though, was easily identified.  The reveal was a little bit confusing. I had to reread the ending to capture all the different bits.  There is quite a bit of repetition in the story.  I wish it had been eliminated and the book would have been a better length.  There are times when I felt the story is aimed at a younger audience (Tempest is in her mid-20s).  This was a lighthearted, fun cozy mystery that has many great elements.  It will be interesting to see what designs Tempest comes up with for Secret Staircase Construction.  Under Lock & Skeleton Key is magical tale with secret staircases, a dead doppelganger, a centuries old curse, a missing mother, a curious key, mouthwatering morsels, hypnotizing illusions, and a surprising missive.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key is available from Amazon*.  You can find Gigi Pandian's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am featuring The Lying Club by Annie Ward.  I hope that you have an enchanting day.  I am off to relax.  I am still recovering from my recent fibromyalgia flare up.  It will give me a chance to catch up on my reading!  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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