ISBN #: 9780738750316
Midnight Ink Publishing
March 8, 2017
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.
********Maddie Kosloski owns the Paranormal Museum and is exhibiting her newest acquisition, a haunted grape press, at the harvest festival. But when local police detective Laurel Hammer shows up at her museum and insists the press is stolen, Maddie is going to have a problem, since Detective Hammer wants to take the press in as evidence. Then Maddie goes to the festival with her mother to help out, and while doing so manages to discover the body of Romeo Paganini, the man who accused her of stealing his press.
While she is high on the suspect list, it doesn't completely rule out anyone else, including her friend Adele Nakamoto, who was seen having an argument with him, nor even his wife Jocelyn and son Leo, who works for Maddie.
So her mother insists she investigate, and so do the members of Ladies' Aid, since they think she'll find the killer before the police do. But she has a lot on her plate besides investigating, with helping at the local haunted house, avoiding a cop that hates her, hosting a death café, and dealing with the fact she's just been sucker punched by her boyfriend Mason. Maddie has her work cut out for her, and if she doesn't find the killer soon, she may be the next one with the life squeezed out of her...
This book appeared to have all the right elements for a great mystery - paranormal museum, ghost detecting cat, curses, etc.; unfortunately it fell short in several areas for me. While I enjoyed the historical aspect (the haunted grape press and its history), I didn't much care for the direction the story was going regarding Maddie and Mason. It seemed too easy of a cliché; too convenient all around. Not to mention the fact it rather paints the ex-girlfriend as a master manipulator and/or liar, and Mason as an imbecile for accepting things as fact without proof - but those are my opinions.
I also didn't like Detective Laurel Hammer at all - she has a personal grudge against Maddie that seems like harassment. I didn't understand how she could remove the grape press - without a warrant - on hearsay. Yes, hearsay. Maddie had a receipt signed by the wife, but Romeo only said it was stolen - without proof except him saying so. I would think Detective Hammer should have gone back to him and told him everything looked legal and it was a matter for the courts to decide. As it was, it made Hammer totally unlikable and appearing to carry a personal vendetta using any means possible.
But I didn't allow these things to color the rest of my enjoyment with the book. As stated above, I really liked the paranormal aspect, but felt it pushed aside because of those things mentioned. I also would have liked to have seen some sort of connection between GD and Maddie, but perhaps she'll grow on him in future books. I did like the friendship between Maddie and her two best friends; there's an obvious fondness for each other that is nice. It was nice to learn a little bit about wine making, and as I stated above, I did like the historical aspect.
When we come to the ending and the murderer is revealed it made a pretty good mystery all around. There weren't any big revelations, as I felt the clues were there all along, but it was put together well and everything came together nicely. Recommended.