Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Gigi Pandian

Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Accidental Alchemist mysteries and the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries. She spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pandian’s debut was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, the follow-up won the Left Coast Crime Rose Award, and her locked-room mystery short fiction has been nominated for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Pandian’s latest novel is The Masquerading Magician, the second Accidental Alchemist mystery.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I was an avid mystery reader long before I became a writer. The majority of what I read still falls into the mystery genre, but lately a lot of my “mystery fix” has come from nonfiction. I thought I’d share two great nonfiction books and two great mysteries I’ve read recently:

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
This is an engrossing history of the Detection Club, the private club of mystery novelists that began in England during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Edwards focuses most on three of the founding members, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anthony Berkeley, all of whom had fascinating hidden lives. There are also stories about other club members, including my personal favorite Golden Age writer, John Dickson Carr. My copy of the book is now filled with notes in the margins about new-to-me classic mysteries I plan to seek out.

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson
Pirate Hunters is a nonfiction book that read like a thriller. I love treasure hunts that steeped in real history (which is why I created the Jaya Jones treasure hunt mystery series), and this is a real-life underwater treasure hunt for a pirate ship. The real life stakes are as high as in fiction: the ship they’re after would be only the second pirate ship every positively identified, the heroes crisscross the globe in search of clues, and less scrupulous competitors are hot on their heels.

The Fourth Door: The Houdini Murders by Paul Halter
French mystery novelist Paul Halter has been hailed as this generation’s John Dickson Carr—the master of locked-room “impossible crime” mysteries—and he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Many of Halters books are available in English, with more on the way. His American publisher, Locked Room International, specializes in translating locked-room mysteries into English. I don’t speak French well enough to enjoy books in French, so I’ve been devouring Halter’s books as they get translated into English. The appeal of this type of classic mystery is the baffling fair-play puzzle of a seemingly impossible crime that looks like it must have been committed through supernatural means—but there’s a brilliant explanation at the end. The Fourth Door is one of Halter’s most satisfying mysteries I’ve read, featuring a supposedly haunted room and a man who believes he’s the reincarnation of Harry Houdini.

A Ghoul’s Guide to Love and Murder by Victoria Laurie
Reading the tenth book in the Ghost Hunters mystery series was like sitting down with old friends. This lighthearted paranormal mystery series has been one of my favorites for years, and A Ghoul’s Guide to Love and Murder provides a great ending to the series.

Now that I’ve got my own book deadlines, I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, but I always curl up with a book before bed. After a cancer diagnosis a few years ago, I gave up finishing books I don’t love (life’s too short!), so I often find myself staying up way too late to read “just a few more pages” of a great book. These four books fell into that category. That’s what coffee is for, right?
Visit Gigi Pandian's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue