The Masquerading MagicianBonjour. Je m’appelle Dorian Robert-Houdin. Pardon. I will switch to English. Do not be frightened of my appearance. I am a gargoyle. I was brought to life 150 years ago through alchemy.

Perhaps you have heard of my father, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. He is often credited as the father of modern stage magic. His friend Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the architect who restored Notre Dame Cathedral and added a gallery of gargoyles in the 1850s, gave my father one of his gargoyle statues as a gift. My father wished to use the statue as part of a dramatic scene in a magic show, and placed the gift on his stage. Yet when he read from an antique alchemy book he believed was merely a prop. . .voila! I was born.

I have lived most of my life in the shadows. Most people are not ready to believe in a living gargoyle. I cannot adequately express how pleased I am to have found a true home in Portland, Oregon, with alchemist Zoe Faust.

Zoe is helping me decode the book of alchemy that brought me to life. It is an urgent quest, because the sad fact is that my life force is reversing. Soon, if Zoe does not discover Not Untrue Alchemy’s secrets, I will be awake yet trapped in stone forever.

Dawn is breaking, so I have safely made my way through the darkness back to Zoe’s house. I crawled through my secret doorway—a hole in the roof atop the Craftsman house attic—and am now in my favorite room of the house: the kitchen.

As a Frenchman, I have always appreciated the finest foods. I became a chef many years ago, and it is the perfect avocation for me. (How this transpired is a long story, so Dru Ann tells me I must save it for the pages of the novel that tells my story.)

I was once a traditional French chef—until I met Zoe. As an alchemist who immerses herself in her work with plants, Zoe follows a plant-based diet. I admit my first thought upon learning this fact was quelle horreur! Yet she won me over. And after six months with the alchemist, I have become the greatest vegan chef in Portland. Perhaps in all of Oregon.

Zoe tells me I should be more humble, but why should I lie? I have perfected a decadent macaroni and cheese using cashews, discovered substitutions that are more magnifique than the originals, and even improved upon Zoe’s chocolate elixir. I am now the pastry chef at the neighborhood gathering spot, Blue Sky Teas. Of course, everyone besides our young neighbor Brixton believes Zoe to be the pre-dawn chef. C’est la vie. As long as I am able to cook, I am happy.

I wish Zoe could join me for breakfast today, but she is looking into a suspicious pair of stage magicians who have come to town. I do wonder what they are up to, but I have more important matters to attend to. If you will excuse me, it is time to eat.


The Masquerading Magician is the second book in the “Accidental Alchemist” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink, January 2016.

About The Masquerading Magician

Deciphering an ancient alchemy book is more difficult than Zoe Faust bargained for. She’d much rather be gardening and exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon—but time is running out for living gargoyle Dorian Robert-Houdin. If Zoe isn’t able to unlock the alchemy book’s secrets soon, the French gargoyle will remain awake but trapped in stone forever.

When Zoe gives herself a rare night out to attend a classic magic show that reminds her of her youth, she realizes the stage magicians are much more than they seem. A murder at the theater leads back to a string of unsolved robberies and murders in Portland’s past, and a mystery far more personal than Zoe and Dorian ever imagined.

Recipes included!

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All comments are welcomed.

About the author
USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood being dragged around the world, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s the author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and Quicksand) as well as the Accidental Alchemist mysteries (The Accidental Alchemist and The Masquerading Magician). Gigi’s debut mystery novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, the follow-up won the Left Coast Crime Rose Award, and her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Connect with Gigi on her website at gigipandian.com, on Facebook, on Twitter at @gigipandian, and via her email newsletter.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Masquerading Magician. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end January 19 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

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