The curator of a most unusual museum tries to prove she’s innocent of murder when the original owner of her latest exhibit winds up dead.
San Benedetto Detective Laurel Hammer’s grudge against Madelyn Kosloski, which goes all the way back to high school, flared up again quite recently when Maddie accidentally set Laurel’s hair on fire in the name of crime solving. So it’s no surprise to Maddie that Laurel has it in for her, even going so far as to confiscate a grape press Maddie bought to display at the local Harvest Festival. This isn’t just any grape press, but a verified haunted one, a perfectly fitting addition to the booth highlighting Maddie’s business, the Paranormal Museum. Laurel’s claim that the press is stolen forces Maddie to trace the provenance from the original owner, Romeo Paganini. Almost as soon as she starts to look for Romeo, Maddie finds him, or at least his body. Not only will Maddie never prove her innocence of the grape press theft, but now Laurel’s determined to arrest her for Romeo’s murder. And Maddie’s allies are few. Her overbearing mother insists that Maddie personally investigate Romeo’s death, and Maddie’s boyfriend, Mason, is nowhere to be found. But Maddie finds a surprising friend in her part-time employee, Leo, who also happens to be Romeo’s estranged son. So close do the two of them grow, in fact, that Maddie’s friends soon wonder if her relationship with Leo is making her forget that he’s a viable suspect in his father’s death.
Weiss trades down from a focus on her characters’ personal lives to something more plot-driven, diminishing the charm of her series debut (The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, 2016).