Maddie Kosloski is no fan of San Benedetto’s Christmas Cow, a thirty-foot straw bovine that graces the town square every December. For one thing, the cow displaces her paranormal museum as the number one tourist attraction. Plus, every year, despite around-the-clock surveillance, the cow goes up in flames.
But this year, there’s more than just a fire blazing in Maddie’s wine-country hometown. One of the Christmas Cow guards has been found with an arrow in his chest, and Maddie’s new haunted cowbell exhibit is fueling a panic. Are the spirits in her museum getting too hot to handle? If Maddie can’t stop the hysteria—and the murderous archer—her holiday plans might not be the only thing full of holes.
Maddie Kosloski has always known her hometown of San Benedetto is a bit odd, but perhaps the town’s oddest tradition is the construction of the yearly Christmas Cow. And, the inevitable burning of said Christmas Cow. Determined the cow will stay standing through the holiday, Maddie’s mom and select group of Christmas Cow committee members work out a guard duty rotation that should see the cow safely through the days and nights. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite according to plan.
Just as Maddie and the delectable Detective Slate arrive on the scene of the burning cow, a dead body shows up. Typical, Maddie is on the scene when a dead body appears. Can her luck get any worse? The answer to that is a resounding yes! Immediately, Maddie’s mother feels responsible for the incendiary incident and wants to get to the bottom of both the burning and the dead body. Though Maddie is beyond hesitant to get involved, she sees the determination in her mother’s eyes and knows resisting would be a futile effort.
As the Kosloski women quickly discover, the dead man wasn’t all that well liked and there are a host of people who look good for the crime. There’s the ex-lover, the rogue raw milk dealer, and various members of various committees and groups. With each new question and answer comes a slew of new questions and answers and before Maddie and her mom know it, they’re up to their ears in suspects, information, and puzzle pieces that just don’t quite fit together. Additionally, the closer they get to the truth, the testier the police get about their involvement, and the more attempts are made on their lives. Yeah, Maddie and her mom are up to their butts in this mess and if they can’t figure out whodunit, the Kosloski women might not live to see the New Year.
The Bottom Line: The deeper into this series I get, the more I am liking it! This third book came out swinging with a quirky plot – a Christmas COW! – a delightful cast of returning characters, and character evolution that makes my reader bits all kinds of happy. Maddie’s fiercely determined mother steps up to the plate in this one as does Detective Slate, two characters I am ever so glad to get to know better. Maddie’s best friends are still in the picture, as are her employee, paranormal dealer, local bookie, and ex. With the new-to-this-book characters, Deja Moo is full of fun, well-rounded characters who make San Benedetto all the more delightfully weird. The plot is just twisty enough to keep you guessing, there are several could-only-happen-to-Maddie accidents/incidents, and a smallish love triangle. In all, this cozy mystery is a quick, fun read that certainly adds to the strength of the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum series!