Pressed to Death (Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum #2) by Kirsten Weiss
Midnight Ink, 2017
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 338 pgs
Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
I really enjoyed the first book in the series and was pleased with this second installment as well. The Harvest Festival is about to get underway and Maddie, owner of the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, just has to put the final touches on her display. Only, good ol’ Laurel, a detective with a chip on her shoulder, is accusing Maddie of being a thief. Evidently the former owner of the haunted grape press Maddie is using for her display has reported it stolen. Maddie knows it wasn’t. She got it fair and square from a collector who had bought it from the wife of the accuser. With the grape press taken as evidence, Maddie must get creative if she is going to put up a display at the festival. While there, she agrees to help her mother who is a part of the Ladies’ Aid Society set up their event. Then Maddie unwittingly discovers a body—the body of the very man who had accused Maddie of stealing his grape press. Of course, this puts her at the top of the suspect list.
Maddie does not want to investigate another murder. It isn’t her place after all. But it seems the town is taking bets, and her mother is applying pressure. Could the murder be related to someone in the Ladies’ Aid group whose members recently had a falling out? Perhaps one of the people the victim rubbed the wrong way? He wasn’t well liked after all. Or what about the outsider looking into buying up area vineyards? Maddie's mother is acting awfully strange and so are her friends for that matter. As Maddie tries to ascertain the truth, she must stay under the radar of Laurel as Laurel is determined to pin something on Maddie, no matter what it is. (Laurel’s grudge against Maddie is rather ridiculous if you ask me. I really do not like that woman.)
Maddie can’t help it that she’s been caught up in recent murders in town (both this and the first book in the series). They really aren’t her fault, are they? I love how in this novel she doesn’t start out investigating, but people seem to expect her to and so open up to her. Which, of course, leads to her asking questions.
On the personal front, Maddie’s boyfriend’s is hiding something, and while he praises Maddie’s understanding and patience, his long absences and failure to return her calls are weighing on her. Maddie isn’t sure she wants to know, and uses the murder investigation as an excuse not to confront him. I cannot say I am disappointed about this turn of events with Mason. It may open a door for Detective Slate, with whom, even in the first book, seems to have some sort of connection with Maddie. I quite like Detective Slate, and so would not mind if that’s the direction the series goes. Even so, I do like Mason.
One of my favorite aspects of this series is the mystery involving a haunted object. In the first book, it was a photograph, and in this one it is the grape press. The grape press is sending out quite a few negative vibes and no one wants it around. Maddie isn’t exactly one to embrace the paranormal being rather skeptical herself, but she does love a good mystery. Finding out what happened to the two lovers associated with the grape press would certainly make a good story for the museum too.
This could easily be one of my favorite cozy mystery series given how much I have enjoyed the two books I have read so far. It is funny and entertaining, with the right dose of suspense and drama that keeps me wanting to come back and visit with the characters. Pressed in Death had plenty of twists that kept me guessing, although I had a strong suspicion of the whodunit early on. I need to make time soon to read the next book in the series, Deja Moo!
To learn more about Kirsten Weiss and her work, please visit the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter.