Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Review - A Midnight Puzzle

Title:  A Midnight Puzzle
Author Gigi Pandian
Series:   Secret Staircase Mystery #3
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Genre:   Mystery & Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   352
Date of Publication:   March 19, 2024
My Rating:   5 Stars

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.


Tempest Raj and her family have a unique business called Secret Staircase Construction. They create rooms that are referred to as architectural misdirection. The family business is under attack. Could the company's most recent construction be responsible for the death of one of their clients?

This series is written from Tempest's POV. I love her character! She is smart-mouthed, but insanely clever and talented. The idea of architectural puzzles is really cool and it was fun to imagine being in a room that had such a clever design. Of course, this book has a serious edge since there was a death, and this death had to be investigated.  Of course, Tempest felt it was up to her to find the person responsible. 

I so love this series. It is a literal case of locked room mysteries, and the first two book, Under Lock & Skeleton Key and The Raven Thief. In each book there is a unique construction that factors into the current mystery. In this book, A Midnight Puzzle, the family is in dire straits and I love how this book came along. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read. 

Many thanks to Minotaur Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


I’m a USA Today bestselling and award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. I’m the child of academics from New Mexico and the southern tip of India, and I spent my childhood tagging along on their research trips around the world, which is what inspired my fiction. I now live outside San Francisco with my husband and a gargoyle who watches over the garden. 

I write the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, Secret Staircase mysteries, Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. My debut novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” Debut Novel by Suspense Magazine, and my fiction has received Agatha, Anthony, Lefty, and Derringer Awards, and been a finalist for the Edgar Award. Along with Kellye Garrett and Walter Mosley, I’m one of the co-founders of Crime Writers of Color.

My second Secret Staircase mystery, The Raven Thief, is available now from Minotaur Books, and my seventh Accidental Alchemist mystery, The Alchemist of Monsters and Mayhem, comes out October 10, 2023. I’m currently at work on the next books in each series, as well as a couple of secret projects. 

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