cover image A Midnight Puzzle: A Secret Staircase Mystery

A Midnight Puzzle: A Secret Staircase Mystery

Gigi Pandian. Minotaur, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-88020-8

Pandian triumphs again with her excellent third whodunit featuring magician-turned-sleuth Tempest Raj (after The Raven Thief), in which a baffling murder revives an unsolved Raj family mystery. After her career as a Las Vegas illusionist ended badly, Tempest moved home to Hidden Creek, Calif., to join the family business: a secret staircase construction firm. The company is in peril courtesy of a lawsuit filed by Julian Rhodes, whose wife, Paloma, fell to her near death from a circular staircase built by the firm. Tempest suspects that Julian actually tried to murder Paloma by pushing her down the stairs and then damaged the top step to implicate the Rajs. Her quest to find the truth and save the company grows more complicated when she receives a midnight call from Julian, asking her to meet him at the Whispering Creek Theater, the same place Tempest’s mom disappeared from five years earlier. When Tempest arrives at the theater, she finds Julian impaled by a booby-trapped sword. By solving Julian and Paloma’s murders, Tempest hopes to unearth answers about her own long-simmering family tragedy. Pandian continues to channel golden age masters including John Dickson Carr and Clayton Rawson with this fiendishly clever, intricately constructed whodunit. It’s another home run from a major talent. (Mar.)