Tempest Raj, aka “The Tempest,” has gone home to California following an accident that has derailed her career as a stage magician. Tempest knows that the failed trick that nearly killed her was not due to neglect and proper vetting on her part, but rather the result of sabotage by her former stage double, Cassidy Sparrow. But convincing anyone else – even those she considered friends were quick to think the worst of The Tempest – would not be easy. Now she’s home, seeking comfort from those who love her unconditionally, and who make the best Indian home-cooked meals … her grandfather.
Tempest has grown up with magic and illusions – her father started and runs a company called Secret Staircase Construction which, as the name suggests, builds secret staircases and hidden rooms for customers who’ve always dreamt of having such a luxury. Tempest’s father would like nothing more than to have his daughter join him in the company, but Tempest, who has dreamt of – and was beginning to experience – a life as a star, headlining magician thinks that going to work for her company now would be admitting defeat in achieving her goals. But the longer she stays away from performing the more likely it will be that she needs to work for her father.
When Tempest visits her father’s latest job – a renovation of a room that’s been sealed for over a hundred years, Tempest and the crew discover a body. It is not, however, a 100 year old corpse. Instead, it is a body that couldn’t possibly be in the room. It is the body of Cassidy Sparrow, who Tempest last saw a month ago … the woman who destroyed Tempest’s career.
I’m not sure I can adequately relay how glad I am to see a new Gigi Pandian book! With a new publisher and a new series, I’m hoping we’ll be able to follow the exploits of Tempest Raj and friends for many years to come.
This is a new mystery series (and oh how I love the idea of a Secret Staircase Construction company) which makes coming into the series easy. But for those of us who’ve reading Pandian’s books, there are some familiar characters here … people we have encountered in other Pandian books. This makes it new and familiar at the same time.
Pandian excels at creating interesting, loveable, believable characters. Tempest is a seriously great choice to lead a new mystery series. I loved the description of how Tempest’s parents met. But it’s not just her characters that are done well, Pandian is tremendous at plotting the seemingly-impossible scenarios and will keep a reader guessing until the end.
Looking for a good book? Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is the first book in a new series and will surely hook and hold a reader all the way through.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Under Lock and Skeleton Key
author: Gigi Pandian
series: A Secret Staircase Mystery #1
hardcover, 352 pages