Series: Secret Staircase Mystery #2
Published by Minotaur Books on March 21, 2023
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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Multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian is one of the best locked room mystery writers working today. Her newest heroine, Tempest Raj, returns in The Raven Thief, where sliding bookcases, trick tables, and hidden reading nooks hide something much more sinister than the Secret Staircase Construction crew ever imagined.
One murder. Four impossibilities. A fake séance hides a very real crime.
Secret Staircase Construction just finished their first project with Tempest Raj officially a part of the team—a classic mystery novel-themed home interior. Their client is now ready to celebrate her new life without her cheating ex-husband, famous mystery author Corbin Colt. First up, a party, and Tempest and Grandpa Ash are invited to the exclusive mock séance to remove any trace of Corbin from the property—for good. It's all lighthearted fun until Corbin's dead body crashes the party.
The only possible suspects are the eight people around the séance table—a circle of clasped hands that wasn't broken. Suspicion quickly falls on Grandpa Ash, the only one with actual blood on him. To prove her beloved grandfather’s innocence, Tempest must figure out what really happened—and how—or Ash will be cooking his delectable Indian and Scottish creations nevermore.
There are some things I loved about The Raven Thief and some things I could do without. The mystery itself is well-done. Tempest and her grandfather are invited to a “seance” to rid a woman’s house of the bad vibes of her ex-husband. Right in the middle, however, her ex drops onto the table – dead, surrounded by raven feathers. Ash, Tempest’s grandfather, becomes the chief suspect, so of course, Tempest has to do everything she can to clear his name.
Tempest is a former stage magician, so is the perfect person to figure out how the “trick” was done. I’m pretty sure it’s a fair play mystery, that the reader gets all the same clues as Tempest and her sidekicks, but I didn’t put them together. These books rely a lot on misdirection on the killer’s part that our magicians and builders need to unravel, which is fun. I enjoy the puzzle of it. Tempest is a great character, too – tenacious, smart, and caring. Her friends and family are charming and loyal. I even enjoy the occasional appearance of her nemesis/biggest fan. He adds a bit of tension and is an interesting character in his own right.
I don’t enjoy the potential love triangle – those are never my cup of tea. I also don’t enjoy the “family mystery” aspect that hangs over the series. Tempest needs to solve the deaths of her mother and aunt. I know an overarching plotline like that is a good way to keep a series connected, but I kind of hate it. I would just like Tempest to solve it so we can concentrate on the present-day mysteries and construction projects.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Glad to hear you mostly enjoyed this one. I’ve got it pre-ordered, so I’m looking forward to diving into it at some point myself.
There is so much I like about Tempest and the series. The things that annoy me bother me in other series too, so as long as the triangle resolves a bit, I can overlook the rest.