Gigi Pandian: The Raven Thief

Tempest Raj returns for an impossible mystery in The Raven Thief, the second in Gigi Pandian’s Secret Staircase series. A stage magician, Tempest is living in her childhood home after a scandalous debacle involving her career. A natural storyteller, Tempest is now working at her father’s construction company making sure their fantastic creations have a solid narrative, too. She is in the process of planning her final show throughout the book, and has barely started to consider it when Secret Staircase Construction’s latest client invites her to a séance.

It’s not exactly your average séance (if such a thing can be called average) either. The client Lavinia, soon to be ex wife of a famous author, is holding it to banish the memory of her still living spouse. In addition, the séance is being held by Tempest’s childhood friend Sanjay, a current stage magician. Lavinia plans to burn some of Corbin Colt’s papers to truly cleanse the place of his energy. Her book club will also be in attendance, and it’s meant to be a light hearted affair.

But this, of course, is a mystery novel. Somehow, during the séance, Corbin turns up dead on the table. Due to past run ins with the unpleasant man, Tempest’s grandpa Ash immediately becomes a suspect in the murder simply for attending. Tempest is left to use her puzzle solving skills to clear Ash’s name – whether he asked her to help or not. But things are, somehow, still more complicated than just a flashy locked room mystery with no clear solution.

Tempest is haunted by the unsolved death of her mother, and the murder of her aunt, from many years before. She’s also being followed by a mysterious figure, who appears to be obsessed with her and had something to do with the previous case. And, more simply, she is reconnecting with old friends and trying to build her life. There even seems to be the possibility of a love triangle on the horizon.

Put simply, this is a fun read. The mystery will keep you guessing, and Pandian laces just enough of the myth arc throughout to let you know the series is going places. The reader will want to stay with the story to the end to find out who-done-it, but also to fit more pieces into place concerning Emma Raj’s disappearance. Pandian presents us with a tight knit, quirky cast anyone would want to follow – and Tempest herself is a force to be reckoned with. – Margaret Agnew



Margaret Agnew is the Director of the Cahokia Public Library in Cahokia, Illinois.  A graduate of Ripon College and Indiana University, she has been a mystery fan and an avid reader from an early age.  She was also a reviewer for Mystery Scene Magazine.