Pressed to Death is a cozy mystery novel, written by Kirsten Weiss. This novel was published on March 8, 2017 by Midnight Ink. It is the second book in the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum series.
Blurb for PRESSED TO DEATH
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.
Jen’s Review of PRESSED TO DEATH
I read Pressed to Death because I enjoyed the book before this one, and I received a free copy via Netgalley for review consideration. However, I ended up reading it in print from the public library.
Quick Review: Not much paranormal in this story, but a fun mystery anyway
About the Story
In Pressed to Death, Maddie discovers the dead body of a man who had falsely accused her of stealing an antique grape press. There is some connection between his death and the Ladie’s League, which her mother is a part of, because they pressure her into investigating the murder. Meanwhile, she has to deal with her nemesis, Laurel, gunning for her to be guilty of the murder and her boyfriend, Mason, being mysteriously unavailable.
The plot moves along quickly. It flows well from point to point, without any inconsistencies.
My biggest complaint about the story is that it is labeled paranormal, but it’s not really. I can list on one hand the paranormal-type elements, which were all related to people or animals feeling something or acting strangely around the grape press. But, to me, they can all be easily dismissed as imagination or the power of suggestion. The grape press doesn’t actually do anything to indicate it is haunted or cursed. And Maddie’s ‘paranormal museum’ just seems like an antique store. Although the items are all related to death or the occult in some way, there aren’t any incidents in the story that would make me think there is anything paranormal about them. Maddie herself doesn’t believe they are haunted. So, basically, it’s a book about a woman who is a charlatan. She even puts up an “invisible grape press” display when the grape press is confiscated by the police.
Maddie, like before, also wants to solve the mystery of the crime related to the artifact in her musuem, this time the ‘haunted’ grape press. She does some research (and pays for some research) to get to the bottom of the murder. I didn’t think this added much to the story, but I guess it is an element we will see in each of these books in the series.
About the Characters
The invisible grape press display took Maddie down several notches in my opinion. It felt wrong. Also, she’s kind of a baby about everything going on with Mason, and that lowered my opinion of her too. Overall, though, I still liked her and wanted to see her be successful in straightening everything out.
Pressed to Death contains a lot of other interesting characters like Dieter, the handyman who takes bets on Maddie’s crime-solving odds, the mob-like women of the Ladies Aid, and Harper, Maddie’s friend who claims to be a witch. Throughout the story, Weiss maintained an air of mystery about the motives of multiple people, not just in terms of the murders.
When I finally learned what was going on with Mason, I was a bit surprised–it wasn’t at all what I had thought it was–but I was mad at Maddie for not trying to find out sooner. She admits being a coward and doesn’t do much to change that aspect of herself.
So, although the characterization is excellent, I have to take off a bit for lack of character growth.
About the Writing
I don’t have any complaints about the way the book was written. I think Kirsten Weiss is a good writer who can get to the point quickly and keep a reader engaged in the story.
The mystery was easy to solve, but there were plenty of red herrings to make me wonder if there could be another motive and killer.
About the Worldbuilding and/or Setting
Weiss did a wonderful job of creating mood and atmosphere in every setting. I especially liked the creepiness of the castle at night when she goes to visit Romeo’s wife. It was easy for me to imagine I was there, feeling what Maddie was feeling.
Do I Recommend?
As long as you don’t expect any ghosts floating around, disembodied voices, or other supernatural phenomenon to occur in the story, I suggest reading Pressed to Death, especially if you have already read The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum. The mystery is enjoyable, as are the characters. And, although the book has some humor, it also has serious issues for Maddie to deal with (beyond solving the murder). I liked the book enough to continue reading the series.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (B)
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