The First Two Pages: “The Locked Room Library” by Gigi Pandian

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

I first met Gigi Pandian at Malice Domestic—and while we’ve met up and chatted any number of times over many years, several specific memories stand out. The first was one of our early conversations where she talked about wanting to write a short story and trying to figure out how to do it after having focused so much effort on novels. I don’t remember what year that conversation was, but her plans certainly worked well: In 2014, “The Hindi Houdini,” only her second published short story, was named a finalist for the 2013 Agatha Award for Best Short Story! And a bigger memory/moment: In 2019, her story “The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn” won the Agatha—a much-deserved honor for a great story and the fine author behind it.

Recently Gigi has enjoyed another milestone—her first appearance in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and not only did she get a cover mention, but “The Locked Room Library” is the lead story for the July/August 2021 issue. Honors again!

While I’m emphasizing her short fiction here—focused on locked room and impossible crime stories and don’t miss her collection The Cambodian Curse & Other Stories—Gigi is an accomplished novelist as well, with ten traditional mystery novels to her credit and two more ahead: The Alchemist of Fire and Fortune, the fifth in her Anthony Award-winning Accidental Alchemist mystery series, and Under Lock & Skeleton Key, the first in her Secret Staircase series… which features the same Locked Room Library setting as her EQMM story! That series will debut in March 22.

Find out more about Gigi at her website——and stay connected through her email newsletter by subscribing at

And in the meantime, check out her essay below on “The Locked Room Library,” both for a preview of the story and the series ahead and for some wider reflections on locked room/impossible crime mysteries.

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.