An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.
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)
What would you do if one day you realized that all the stories your family has told you throughout the years are actually true? Matty is just now realizing that the crazy stories he’s heard are really true and not just the ramblings of his upset uncle railing against the government.
Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory tells the story of the amazing Tellemachus family, a group of psychics whose powers span generations. Three generations have now descended on one town, sharing secrets, houses, and jobs. The lives they have built together are now starting to crumble, thanks to actions sent in motion many, many years ago by the patriarch of the family, Teddy.
Teddy Telemachus met young Maureen when the two were at a college signing up for an experimental study. Fascinated by her good looks and psychic powers, Teddy made it his mission to get to know her better. Flash forward to the mid-1970s. Teddy and Maureen are married with three children in tow: Irene, Frankie, and Buddy. The Telemachus family is famous! They’re known on the talk show and late-night television circuit for performing tricks and feats that no one can understand. Those Telemachus people must be magic! Teddy is a conman with no actual magical talent, Maureen can astral project, Irene can detect lies, Frankie is telekinetic, and Buddy is clairvoyant. Teddy clearly knows how to work a situation to get what he wants and uses that to provide for his family.
Late one night on a talk show, the Telemachus family is faced with a skeptic whose only goal is to discredit their entire way of life. Teddy believes that after they prove this well-known skeptic wrong, the family will be set for life. Things don’t go to plan though. The magic fails to happen and the family is destroyed. Forced to go into hiding, they soon find themselves living in Chicago trying to rebuild the family name. None of the grandchildren have shown powers yet, at least that’s what Teddy tells the skeptic who keeps showing up and the CIA agents at the door. When one of his children gets involved with the mafia, Teddy discovers secrets running through the family that he wishes didn’t exist. One of these secrets: Irene’s son, Matty, has some Telemachus magic running through his veins. Fighting to stay alive, the Telemachus family realizes that they have to set aside their petty issues and come together to fend off the CIA, mafia, and skeptic threats knocking at the door. Is it too late? Only Buddy knows the answer to that and he’s not talking. You’ll just have to read and see for yourself.