Cover Image: Under Lock & Skeleton Key

Under Lock & Skeleton Key

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Member Reviews

Tempest, an illusionist/magician returns home after a near-death experience during a performance that also left her career and finances in ruins.  It's not long after she returns that she finds herself involved in a murder investigation. The murdered victim- her former assistant and doppelganger.  With a family curse and her mother's mysterious disappearance years ago, Tempest wonders if she was the intended target.  Though I have not yet warmed up to the main character, it was an enjoyable read.  I love her thinking that magic is not just about tricks but more about telling a story.
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What a delightful book Gigi Pandian has written! Charming in so many ways, Under Lock & Skeleton Key was a treat. The secondary characters were almost all so well written: I hope Tempest's family has room for me in their secrets-filled home! 

My only significant criticism was of Tempest herself. She wasn't a bad protagonist....she just never felt like a character, merely a narrator, if that makes sense? Her family and community are so vibrant that she became washed out and more dull in comparison. 

That being said, I *very* much liked the setting and world-building. The whimsy of secret rooms and trick locks was lovely and I loved the homages to the classic greats of mystery writing. I also enjoyed the plot 
 Pandian has a deft hand and it showed. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Minotaur Books for the ebook ARC in exchange for my review. All thoughts are mine alone
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I received this book for free for an honest review from netgalley #netgalley

Great fall read. I buddy read this with a girlfriend and we had so much fun with it.
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I have never read a book by this author. The title was intriguing so I thought I would give it a try. Way beyond my imagination was this mystery about Tempest.. it draws you into the world of magic ,the treehouse and the death of a friend. Tempest is searching for her mother who died some years ago but reappears to her..Details and an ability to describe each part of the mystery pulls the reader in. Loved it!
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This gothic cozy mystery ticks every box for gripping, adventurous, exciting reading experience for me!

  Nancy Drew meets with my favorite magician movies including Prestige and Now You See Me  ( or Bollywood’s Dhoom 3)!

 The characters were lovely especially the Magician family of our MC Tempest Raj! 
The ideas of vanishing in secret rooms and hidden entrances, the family curse were temptingly intriguing!

 The pacing was capturing. The action parts balanced with love triangle. 

The story development was unique and the mystery picks your interest!

  The conclusion was also satisfying enough for you to want to read more books of this brand new installment! 

Let’s take a look at the plot and make introductions of characters and this impressively well constructed world building! 

Tempest Raj returns back to family home located at Hidden Creek, California after having nearly death experience during stage performance which is the main reason why her career just sank. Now she has to rebuild her reputation and work for fresh start! 
  Her family’s construction business focused on building secret rooms with hidden entrances. 

  Instead of rebuilding her career, Poor Tempest finds herself in the middle of murder investigation. Her doppelgänger stage assistant is found death at the site of her father’s one of the construction projects. Did somebody target her and accidentally kill the poor assistant?

 And she also hears about the curse  that kills the eldest child in the family! Could the curse affect her? What about her deadly stage accident?  Did her mother and aunt kill because of the curse? 

She has to team up with magician friend Hindu Houdini and her best friend to dig out more to find out who’s the culprit by taking us an action packed adventure takes place hidden entrances of unique buildings! 

  Well this was so much fun! I loved the magician family and those mouth watering Indian and Scottish food recipes at the book. 

  I’m looking forward to read the next books of the series!

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/ Minotaur Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
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This read was definitely a departure from the run of the mill mysteries I've been reading.  The characters and setting were novel and the mystery unwrapped in a way one wouldn't expect.  That's my only quibble, that the reader can't actually solve the mystery.

Looking forward to the next book to see how life unfolds for Tempest.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian. This is the story of Tempest from a family of magicians with a curse that the eldest child dies by magic. Tempest has just been tossed out of Las Vegas by a trick that went bad. I really loved this story and I hope there is a book 2. I love the characters, the grandparents are awesome and I love the food descriptions with recipes included! I love the magic trips! I want to go visit Fiddlers Folly! Will recommend this book. Thank you for letting me review this book
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This is a very cute cozy mystery. It’s extremely well written and easy to follow. Characters are fun and extremely relatable. The story itself has some magic and mystery that makes it a joy to read. Highly recommend for all mystery book lovers!
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I’m not sure why I have never given cozy mysteries a chance until recently but I am glad I have! They are fun to read and very addictive. That was exactly the case for this one and I couldn’t help but want to binge it to find out who the murderer was.

The book follows Tempest Raj, a magician who almost died on stage and has come back home after the accident and derailment of her career. It’s not the first time that an accident has happened on stage when it comes to her family either. The Raj family has a curse that surrounds them and she hasn’t believed it until now.

I was very intrigued with Tempest and her career as a magician. Magic has always been fascinating and this book includes cool illusions and even mysterious houses with secret hidden ways. I liked learning about how she came to be involved with magic as well as the history of her family since she comes from a long line of magicians. She has always wondered who she is and where she belongs. I liked reading about her trying to piece it altogether in not-so-great circumstances. It made her feel real. Tempest is strong willed and even if those around her think she is in danger, she will stop at nothing to solve the mystery. It’s definitely very admirable, although dangerous!

Mysteries have always been fun because I get to try and figure out who did it as well with the information I have been handed throughout the book. To be honest, I really thought I had it but I was way in left field when I needed to be in right, haha. Although not figuring it out is also great because it means the story wasn’t predictable and it left me surprised with the reveal!

Besides the mystery, there is a couple of other things involved in the plot. I could see Tempest ending up in a relationship eventually since there could be a love triangle brewing. I also liked seeing Tempest rekindle an old friendship. This book will also make you quite hungry with all the talk that is surrounded by food!

Even though the bigger mystery of the book is solved by the end, the reader is still left wondering about the family curse. Since I see that this will be a series, it makes me even more curious and excited to read the next in hopes we find out more about it.

Overall, I liked this one a lot as it kept me intrigued throughout. I will definitely be looking out for the next in the series.
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Tempest Raj is a professional Magician in this unique locked door mystery. Author Gigi Pandian has called it a "gothic cozy," and that fits this complex and layered story. Tempest's family runs a construction business specializing in adding secret rooms with ingeniously hidden entrances, so Pandian has a lot to work with to keep you guessing using both an unusual physical setting and characters' motives. I don't want to give too much away, but a mildly creepy vibe runs through the book as strange occurrences stack up. Can a killer move through hidden spaces in the walls? Is there a curse on Tempest's family? But, there are also cozy elements with delightful characters, particularly Tempest’s grandparents, and food (with recipes at the end of the book.) Well written, solidly plotted, and the relationship between an impossible crime and stage magic made me think!  Thank you to Netgalley, St, Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books for this enjoyable ARC, all opinions are my own.
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I don't remember the last time I took my time to read a mystery, but with Gigi Pandian's UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY it was a pleasure to slow down and enjoy the story.

Tempest Raj is a stage magician whose career sank after an accident took place during a performance. She returns home to Hidden Creek, California, with the goal of rebuilding her career but instead finds herself involved in mystery when her doppelgänger stage assistant is found dead on site of one of her father's construction projects. Was Tempest the intended victim? If not, what is really going on? And what, if anything, does the fiddle music once played by her before she vanished five years before have to do with it?

Part of the fun is seeing classic and contemporary mystery authors and series mentioned. Tempest is a Trixie Belden fan; her best friend, Ivy, favors Nancy Drew. They both enjoy the works of John Dickson Carr and Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen (who, as my favorite mystery author, I was happy to see included) and others. And, like the Sherlock Holmes stories, it turns out that Tempest may have her own . . . but that would be telling.

I haven't even gotten around to mentioning the Raj family curse, or Tempest's family and friends who help populate this book. I'm looking forward to buying this book when it's released and following the series. The author has also included recipes for some of the Scottish and Indian foods (sometimes combined) that I plan to try at some point.

I am very happy to give UNDER LOCK & SKELETON KEY 5 stars. Highly recommended!

I received a DRC from St. Martin's Publishing Group/Minotaur Books through NetGalley, for which I thank them. All opinions are mine.
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I had so much fun reading this novel! I love the magic and the mystery and the all-round excitement surrounding curses and disappearances.

Although this novel is an adult read, I think it would make an excellent YA novel too. The themes are very evident and prevalent throughout, and the plot is very straightforward and easy to follow.

Tempest enlists the help of a very interesting group of individuals to figure out who killed her lookalike. Together, they have to figure out if there really is a family curse, or if someone is coming after her to make it look this way.

I definitely highly recommend this read to all mystery lovers! I can't wait until another book in the series is released.
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On the count of 3, I'll summon a well-plotted novel with magic and mystery as its focus... Are you ready?

1, 2, 3!

This book feels like a Nancy Drew mystery melded with Now You See Me and I absolutely loved it! Some have called it "gothic cozy" and I totally agree. With the secret staircases and the small town vibes, this is a cozy mystery in a gothic setting that will leave you gasping. I loved Tempest as a character - she's bold and brash, but also kind and intelligent. You just instantly root for her. Plus the locked door mystery? Such a classic, but this one is done so well. We get to delve into the history of locked door mysteries courtesy of Professor Ivy, but there are still so many magical twists in the story. I cannot WAIT for book 2 and have no doubt that it'll be as spellbinding as the first.

*Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review*
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I found Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian a bit slow to start with and would have wished for a bit more back story right away instead of bits and pieces dribbled out but in the end, the story and characters made me wish for more and I will certainly add this author to our collection.
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Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I want to be an honorary member of the Raj family! Will purchase for library and hope a sequel is in the works.
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This is a really unique murder mystery. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read an e-arc of this book.  I loved the magic and intrigue that this story delivers along with the unforgettable family dynamics. These are really likable characters and I look forward to reading more about them in the future.
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murder, murder-investigation, illusionists, curse, cultural-heritage, family-dynamics, friendship, secrets, California, recipes, sabotage, small-business, small-town*****

The Secret Staircase is a niche construction company run by Tempest's father born in India (mother
born in Scotland disappeared five years ago). Tempest Raj was highly paid as an illusionist/magician in Las Vegas until an illusion gone wrong nearly killed her and destroyed the venue. Now she is back home to her father, grandparents, and friends in their very unusual home. It's a tree house! She was told that she lives under a curse and that her mother was a Selkie. All she knows is that the day that she went to the new job site with her dad she met a lonely little boy and also found the body of her recent stunt double. Unravelling the mysteries is a real challenge and there are so many red herrings and... But no spoilers! It's a great story written with full homage to many of the old masters of the locked room genre! Can't wait to get my own copy (probably an audio so it doesn't walk away).
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from St Martin's Press/Minotaur via NetGalley. Thank you!
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Magician Tempest Raj finds her career in shambles after a near death experience. She is sure she was sabotaged, but returns on in shame, then learns about the curse that kills the eldest child in the family. Is she somehow cursed. Did her aunt and mother die because of the curse? With her magician friend the Hindu Houdini and her best friend, Tempest tries to figure out who is killing people around her. A fascinating new series and I hope there are more books to follow.
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This "gothic cozy" (as I've heard the author describe it) was soo freaking good. It's great because it takes the cozy tropes we all love (woman returning home to her small town in disgrace, mouth watering food with recipes, etc) and turns it on its head (the MC is a magician, the dead body is found hidden in a decades old wall). Gigi Pandian has made quite the name for herself as a master of locked room mysteries (which are impossible crimes as she tells us in the book). And this one doesn't disappoint. It also has something for both long-time fans (you'll recognize a few people and names) while also definitely making sure she'll have NEW fans. Can't wait for more folks to read this one!
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When I say I loved this, I LOVED this. I devoured this, mind full on food and words and the deep, deep mysteries of this novel. The food, first, made me possibly gain 50 pounds, just from the descriptions of it. I'm hungry just remembering some of the types of food involved in this one. I found the mystery so, so good. I would say this is a mix between a typical cozy-style mystery with something like Gone Girl. But oh, did I devour it. Thank you for the e-arc.
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