Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian and I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin #BookReviews #murdermysteries

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Known for her wonderfully addictive characters, multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian introduces her newest heroine in this heartfelt series debut. Under Lock & Skeleton Key layers stunning architecture with mouthwatering food in an ode to classic locked-room mysteries that will leave readers enchanted.

An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.

After a disastrous accident derails Tempest Raj’s career, and life, she heads back to her childhood home in California to comfort herself with her grandfather’s Indian home-cooked meals. Though she resists, every day brings her closer to the inevitable: working for her father’s company. Secret Staircase Construction specializes in bringing the magic of childhood to all by transforming clients’ homes with sliding bookcases, intricate locks, backyard treehouses, and hidden reading nooks.

When Tempest visits her dad’s latest renovation project, her former stage double is discovered dead inside a wall that’s supposedly been sealed for more than a century. Fearing she was the intended victim, it’s up to Tempest to solve this seemingly impossible crime. But as she delves further into the mystery, Tempest can’t help but wonder if the Raj family curse that’s plagued her family for generations—something she used to swear didn’t exist—has finally come for her.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian is a mystery with a lot of spark and subterfuge. I loved so many things about this story. The magician tricks and architectural wonders are at the very top of the list, as who doesn’t like secret passageways and hidden rooms, not to mention illusions meant to trick the eye. It’s just chocked so full of fun.

The characters are well-developed, quirky, full of life and love. I couldn’t help but enjoy each and every one. The mystery is complex and masked by plenty of red herrings that left me stumped until the end. I even loved the main character’s name – Tempest, and that says everything you need to know about her.

She comes from a family of magicians and has her own magic show in Las Vegas until one of her tricks goes tragically wrong. She was lucky to escape with her life. She is passionate about her family and her art, which shows in everything she does. Forced to return home, Tempest is helping her father with the family business, Secret Staircase Construction, when a dead body drops into their lives – a murder that only an experienced magician can solve.

I also loved the cultural exploration in the story as Tempest comes from a profoundly multi-cultural family. Did I mention Abracadabra? He is an adorable rabbit owned by Tempest, and he helps solve the mystery in unexpected ways. The only thing I struggled with at times was the long-windedness of the exposition at points. But the content was so fascinating that it more than made up for that. Under Lock and Skeleton Key is a fun, quirky mystery with plenty of magic tricks and secrets to delight every reader. Just say Abracadabra and see what happens.

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

Lyrical and haunting, Hannah Capin’s I Am Margaret Moore is a paranormal thriller that tests the hold of sisterhood and truth.

I am a girl. I am a monster, too.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

“Lyrical writing distinguishes this haunting summer camp thriller as an enthralling literary mystery with crossover appeal…[an] ingenious story about misogyny and power dynamics.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Lapin is a different type of thriller told in an equally unique way. Lapin uses poetic prose to tell a story full of many emotions ranging from love and a feeling of belonging to anger, regret, and hate. I could feel every tiny nuance of each emotion as events unfolded. Unfortunately, I struggled to find a connection that would allow me to immerse myself in the tale. I could never go deeper and simply skimmed the surface, which made this a disappointing read for me. However, I can see the artistry in the way the tale unfolded. Surprisingly, the nonlinear timeline worked fine for me since the story is told in first-person narration. It added to the genuine feel of that very personal narrative style. But the characters lacked a depth that would have taken this character-driven story to a whole new level. They are shadows of themselves from start to finish. I did, however, enjoy the twist at the end. I honestly didn’t see it coming and found myself awed by the implications. The first big twist was one I caught onto from the beginning, but that’s because I’ve read a few story plots that take a similar approach.   I would mention those stories, but I realized that doing that would be a spoiler. If you are looking for a more artistic approach to a thriller, I Am Margaret Moore is just the story you are looking forward to reading.

20 Replies to “Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian and I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin #BookReviews #murdermysteries”

  1. I wondered what you’d think about Margaret Moore. I loved the twist, but it was also a disappointing read for me. The reviews seem to be split 50/50. Under Lock and Skeleton Key sounds like an awesome book and a fun read. I might check into that one on NG.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I ended up reading it quickly and too much on the surface. But then, I’m not a poetry person, so I’m really not surprised.

      And under Lock and Skeleton Key is so much fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll be adding Under Lock and Skeleton Key to my read list, but will likely pass on I am Margaret Moore. I’m not sure I would like the delivery in that one.
    Thanks for the reviews, Tessa!

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    1. I think if you are someone who enjoys poetry and gets it, this book is written in a way you will enjoy. I, however, am not that person. I know how to analyze poetry but it didn’t come naturally.

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      1. I used to love writing and analyzing poetry. My first poetry professor encouraged me to submit my work, and I got two poems published. Then I had a different professor for a second poetry class. He hated my work and constantly belittled it (and me) to the point that I stopped writing and reading it. So, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the book for me. But it sounds like there’s a distinct audience out there for it.

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  3. Under Lock and Skeleton Key is on my list, Tessa. Oh how the TBR grows! Excellent reviews on both. ❤️

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  4. I have been very curious about Under Lock and Skeleton Key, and now that I know there is a rabbit named Abracadabra, I might have to check this one out! Great reviews, Tessa!

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  5. I also found Under Lock and Skeleton Key a fun story. I have enjoyed some of Gigi Pandian’s other books and will continue to follow this series. I am glad you enjoyed it too Tessa. I agree, I would love to live in a house with a secret passage or stairway to my room. I read the blurb of I am Margaret Moore and it didn’t appeal to me at all. I have a tough time enjoying a book where I can’t connect to anyone or the story itself. Great review as always, Tessa.

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