Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Series: Secret Staircase Mystery #3
Published by Macmillan Audio on March 19, 2024
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Length: 10 hr 38 mins
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In heroine Tempest Raj, modern-day queen of the locked room mystery Gigi Pandian has created a brilliant homage to the greats of classic detective fiction.
Secret Staircase Construction is under attack, and Tempest Raj feels helpless. After former client Julian Rhodes tried to kill his wife, he blamed her "accident" on the home renovation company’s craftsmanship. Now the family business—known for bringing magic into homes through hidden doors, floating staircases, and architectural puzzle walls—is at a breaking point. No amount of Scottish and Indian meals from her grandfather can distract Tempest from the they’re being framed.
When Tempest receives an urgent midnight phone call from Julian, she decides to meet him at the historic Whispering Creek Theater—only to find his dead body, a sword through his chest. After a blade appears from thin air to claim another victim, Tempest is certain they’re dealing with a booby trap… something Secret Staircase Construction could easily build. Tempest refuses to wait for the investigation to turn to her or her loved ones. She knows the pieces of the puzzle are right in front of her, she just has to put them together correctly before more disaster strikes.
Multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian and her sleuth Tempest Raj return in A Midnight Puzzle, where an old theater reveals a deadly booby trap, secrets, and one puzzle of a mystery.
A Midnight Puzzle is the third in the Secret Staircase series, and I do think they are best read in order. Tempest, a former stage magician, is enjoying her work with her father’s Secret Staircase Construction company. So, when a customer who is filing a lawsuit against the company is murdered, Tempest decides she has to investigate to save the family business.
This time around the connection to Tempest’s family is clear. The man is murdered by a booby trap at the theater Tempest is renting for one final show, the theater where Tempest’s mom disappeared. I’ll be honest, this overarching mystery about the family curse has not been my favorite part of the first two books. I’m glad we get a solution here, but for me, this book just wasn’t as fun as the last one. And I did guess the killer before it was revealed, although there were a couple of decent twists before we got there.
I listened to the audiobook. The book is from Tempest’s point of view and the narrator does a great job. The characters are well-differentiated and I appreciated the variety of accents.
I do still love how close Tempest and her family and friends are. And the food her grandfather cooks sounds absolutely delicious. I also like the nods to Golden Age mysteries.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: