Under Lock & Skeleton Key is the first book in the new Secret Staircase Mystery series by Gigi Pandian. This series combines two of my favorite cozy mystery elements: a locked room mystery and delicious food! Plus there’s an adorable rabbit named Abracadabra running through the story.
Tempest Raj is a talented stage magician. After a disastrous stage accident ruins Tempest’s career, she returns to her childhood home in California to try to rebuild her life. With her grandparents living in the tree house our back, Tempest is able to turn to them for advice and to drown her feelings in her grandfather’s home-cooked Indian meals. Trying to figure out who was behind that horrible accident may consume Tempest, but she has more pressing concerns. She may have to art working for her father’s company, Secret Staircase Construction. Started by both of her parents, Secret Staircase Construction specializes in combining magic, stories, and construction. They strive to bring childhood magic alive in each of their projects, whether it be a hidden reading nook, complicated and intricate locks, sliding bookcases, and a treehouse in the backyard.
Tempest is called to visit her dad at his latest renovation project. They have found a discrepancy in the blueprints that Tempest’s dad believes she can help them solve using her background in magic and illusions. What Tempest finds instead is the body of her former stage double inside a wall that has been sealed for more than a century. Tempest’s first thought is that she was the intended victim. Second thought: how did the body get into the wall? As she works to solve this mystery, the Raj family curse haunts her thoughts, as it has haunted her family for generations. Although she hopes the curse isn’t true, her recent accident plus her stage double’s death has her believing that the curse may be coming to call.
Secret Staircase Mystery series:
- Under Lock & Skeleton Key (2022)
- The Raven Thief (2023)
The Christmas Caper: A Secret Staircase Mystery Short Story (2022)