Murder spoils a young crafter’s first fair.
Tennessee painter Celeste Cabot packs her adorable Chihuahua, Van Gogh, into her spiffy pink-and-white Shasta trailer to go a couple of miles from her family’s house, hoping to sell her wares at the Summer Arts and Crafts Festival in her native town of Gatlinburg. She figures she’ll feel safe venturing further afield if her initial, close-to-home initiative goes well. It doesn’t. First, her early customers bring their paintings back, claiming she’s included hidden, disturbing designs in them that weren’t visible when they were first purchased. Then, she finds the fair’s manager, Evan Wright, with a carving knife in his neck. If a dead body isn’t spooky enough, apparitions based on characters from Celeste’s paintings invade her Shasta. By the end of her hunt for Evan’s murderer, pretty much everyone, from her customers to her fellow crafters, is mad at Celeste except for hunky woodcarver Caleb Ward, whose repeated dinner invitations are vaguely disturbing, and hunky Detective Pierce Meyer, who never asks her out himself but glowers every time Caleb does. Franchise veteran Pressey, creator of the Haunted Vintage Mystery series, the Haunted Tour Guide Mystery series, and the Halloween LaVeau series, ticks all the requisite boxes without providing anything new to tickle fans’ fancy.
Plucky, self-employed heroine, cute pet, scary ghost, and two eligible suitors: everything a cozy needs but a puzzle.