... the enchanting first book in Gigi Pandian’s Secret Staircase mystery series, flawlessly balances magic, misdirection and murder ... Hidden Creek is a truly delightful setting for a cozy mystery series. Not only does Fiddler’s Folly abound with hidden rooms and intricate locks, but the property also includes the dreamy treehouse where Tempest’s grandparents live. And then there’s the Locked Room Library, a mystery lover’s dream destination that readers will fervently wish truly existed ... The mystery is engaging and full of misdirection (sometimes literally, in the form of sleight-of-hand tricks), and undergirding it all is Tempest’s anxiety around her family curse. But despite the high stakes, Under Lock & Skeleton Key is bursting with heart and hope.
Pandian is in top form in this thoroughly enjoyable series launch ... Pandian negotiates the fine line between the magician’s pledge not to reveal their secrets and the mystery writer’s equally important promise to play fair with the reader by keeping most of the magic tricks offstage. Never mind that the solution of the impossible murder isn’t more central to the story. Lovers of traditional mysteries with quirky characters will be well rewarded.