cover image The Raven Thief: A Secret Staircase Mystery

The Raven Thief: A Secret Staircase Mystery

Gigi Pandian. Minotaur, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-80501-0

In Pandian’s excellent sequel to 2022’s Under Lock & Skeleton Key, magician Tempest Raj, whose parents run Secret Staircase Construction, a company that builds houses with such accoutrements as secret passageways and sliding bookcases, witnesses a crime marked by multiple impossibilities at a séance. Lavinia Kingsley is seeking to eradicate all traces of her ex-husband, author Corbin Colt, from her California home. She retains a conjuror, the Hindi Houdini, to lead a fake séance. But in the middle of the proceedings, Colt’s corpse is dropped onto the séance table, a knife sticking out of his chest and black raven feathers scattered about, an apparent reference to Colt’s book, The Raven. But the knife is fake, Colt was on a livestream moments before and miles away from where his corpse landed, and there seems to be no rational way for his body to have reached its destination. Pandian’s clever solution matches the challenge she sets for her endearingly imperfect lead. This brilliant homage to classic golden age authors such as John Dickson Carr augurs well for a long series run. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary (Mar.)