Pressed to Death (A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery)by Kirsten Weiss

Expected publication: March 8th 2017 by Midnight Ink

4.5 Stars

Synopsis: Perfectly pressed. Perfectly proper. Perfectly deadly.

Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski thinks she has the perfect paranormal exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But before she can open the exhibit, she’s accused of stealing the antique press. And when her accuser is found murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie.

Solving the crime is the last thing on Maddie’s mind, but her mother insists she investigate. Does her mother have a secret agenda? And why has the local charity, Ladies Aid, seemingly gone gangster?

In this light, cozy mystery, haunted houses, runaway wine barrels, and murder combine in a perfect storm of chaos. Facing down danger and her own over-active imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.

My Review: Maddie Kosloski is the owner of the Paranormal Museum in San Benedetto, California. In this story, an antique grape press that was once used in the wine making business and is rumoured to be haunted, is the newest acquisition of the museum. When Maddie moves it to the Harvest Fair site advertising her museum, her nemesis, Detective Lauren Hammer, comes to tell her that the true owner of the press is claiming that is it stolen and she will have to confiscate it. Even when Maddie produces a receipt signed by Romeo Paganini’s wife, the detective goes to the fairgrounds to remove the press. Before she is able to take it, Maddie, helping her mother set up the “Grape Stomp Booth” comes across a dead body buried under the grapes. When it is identified as the vintner accusing her of theft, Maddie becomes a suspect. Everyone, including her mother, wants Maddie to investigate the crime–except the police. One of the things I like about this series is that the police do not co-operate with the amateur sleuth. Maddie does not get any information from them, she is on her own if she wants to solve this crime and take suspicion off herself and her employee, the vintner’s estranged son.

There is a lot going on in this story besides just the murder mystery. Maddie is having problems with her boyfriend Seth, the Ladies’ Aid Society has a huge rift that has put her mother in the middle and Adele is trying to get her tea shop business off the ground. As in the first book, Maddie is also working on getting more information surrounding the murder/suicide story that is attached to the Grape Press. There is fun when setting up the Haunted House, having a Death Cafe and running the museum in general. I really like the character of Deiter, handyman extraordinaire as well as bookie for all local strange things to bet on. All this adds to the story, even though some reviewers wish there had been more emphasis on the mystery. I liked how this developed the main characters more and we get to know them better in this book. The one character that I still do not like is the terrifically annoying Detective Laurel Hammer whose purpose seems only to annoy Maddie and her friends as well as carrying a grudge from highschool days when she was a bit of a bullly. She is definitely a negative stereotype that make police look bad. I am hoping that she will lighten up in future books.

This is a well written cozy mystery with a great California setting and quirky characters. The idea of the Paranormal Museum is a unique twist to the series. Even though Maddie is not a true believer in the paranormal, she realistically accepts that there are phenomena that cannot be explained. Three is a lot of information about making wine blended into the story and of course drinking wine happens at many occasions. This was a fun, easy read that I recommend to cozy mystery fans, especially those who like wine or the paranormal. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.