Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski has the perfect exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie. Knowing the perils of amateur sleuthing as she does, Maddie is reluctant to get involved . . . until her mother insists she investigate.
Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder? Facing down danger and her own overactive imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.
I find the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum series to be quirky and fun. Maddie is a flawed character who is both relatable and easy to follow as a reader. She’s doing everything she can to ensure her new business venture is a success and that drive leads her into precarious situations where she stumbles onto one murder scene after another. I like how the author uses significantly ordinary events like a festival to incorporate the murder in this book. These little touches of ordinary small town events helps to add to the allure of a cozy mystery such as this. Another key feature is the quirky townspeople who come to light throughout each story. These characters help to add humor, create intrigue, or just continue to develop the world around them.
I like that Maddie is still reluctant to investigate the murder. Too often authors have their characters just dive right in and I find that takes away from the story itself and cheapens the experience of this non-detective character discovering the truth. Maddie is not only reluctant throughout the entire book, but apparently everyone is taking bets on whether or not she’ll succeed. Little elements like this help to create an enjoyable storyline, especially when Maddie’s investigation is supposed to be a “secret.” But as we all know, nothing stays secret for long in a small town.
My biggest complaint about the series is Laurel Hammer. This character is highly focused and determined to prove Maddie is a murderer. She’s truly an unlikeable character and some of the things she does seems like it would cost her badge in the real world. I’m not a fan of this character and honestly, I hope one of the next installments includes having her murdered. While I understand the need for having an antagonist in a story, this character is so narrowly focused that her actions nearly make me want to stop reading. For example, she claims Maddie stole the haunted wine press that is at the center of this mystery. However, when it’s proven she didn’t, Laurel still confiscates the item. Not only is that illegal and unlawful, but it’s utterly ridiculous.
Despite my dislike for the antagonist of this series, I really do enjoy this series. I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries. I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think!
Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.