Cover Image: Under Lock & Skeleton Key

Under Lock & Skeleton Key

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Member Reviews

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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This book was provided to me via Kindle by St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books and #NetGalley for my honest opinion. 

The first in a new series Under Lock & Skeleton Key is the perfect start. I can’t wait for more.
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I really enjoyed this mystery of misdirection from Gigi Pandian, the first in a new series. The characters were fun, the descriptions of food left me salivating, and now all I can think about is how I can get my own secret staircase/room/garden! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
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Tempest Raj has had to do the impossible, return home to California to work for her family’s construction company, Secret Staircase Construction. They make hidden staircases and and secret book case doors for those who loved Nancy Drew and now have the ability to pay to have their childhood fantasies fulfilled. It was hardly Tempest’s dream, but she doesn’t have any other choice if she wants to stay solvent. But when she discovers her old stage double dead inside her father’s newest renovation project, which was supposed to have been sealed up for one hundred years. Fearing that she may have been the actual target, decides she has to solve the crime herself.
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Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is an excellent cozy/murder/mystery that is fresh, entertaining, unique, and a breath of fresh air that I truly enjoyed.

This is the first in what is sure to be a fabulous new series: A Secret Staircase Mystery. This is my first book by this author and I am quite pleasantly surprised. Not by her talent, but by the complexity and enjoyment from a narrative that holds far more then I had anticipated when I started this story. 

There is mystery, murder, surprises, truly unique angles, diversity, amazing recipes and food, complex and wonderfully drawn character cast, and a few twists that kept me coming back for more. 

Tempest is an awesome main character. She is smart, sassy, classy, imperfect and realistic, likable and down to earth, and someone I can really cheer for. Trying to find her way in life, experiencing a close call, getting wrapped up into a murder/mystery, trying to do right by her family but also trying to light her own path, and just being fantastic in general really makes this book pop. 

I also love the incorporation of “magic”, optical and architectural illusions, all surrounding a wealth of culture and history yet modern day locations, is such a fabulous balance. 

I am so excited to try the mouth-watering Cardamom shortbread cookies (with a smidge of  jam I think into the center). The recipe seems simple enough. Shortbread is a weakness of mine. 

I heartily recommend this book.

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and St Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
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