by Cynthia Chow
& Penny Warner
At the end of this review is a chance to win a copy of How To Dine On Killer Wine, and a guest post by Penny Warner from the perspective of her character, party planner Presley Parker, talking about her party planning experiences!
For party planner Presley Parker, hosting a wine-tasting event in Napa Valley is an opportunity ripe with possibilities for future connections and sure to garner tons of publicity. However, the first tasting event with the Purple Grape owners is crashed by Green advocate JoAnne Douglas, who threatens to shut the party down in whatever manner necessary. The actual party is a shining success for Presley though, right up to the point when she discovers JoAnne’s body hidden underneath one of the tables. The police detective focuses on the winery’s owner, Rob Christopher, as the primary suspect when his fingerprints are found on the corkscrew weapon and the victim’s shoe is discovered underneath his bed.
Presley’s friends’ assurance that Rob is innocent has her questioning the police’s investigation, and her discovery that JoAnn was the most hated woman in Napa only bolsters her efforts. JoAnn was instrumental in closing down several small wineries, she had numerous lawsuits pending, and she even attempted to shut down the popular bingo events. Even Rob’s attorney and sister-in-law are also behaving suspiciously, adding to the plethora of suspects Presley is determined to interrogate. Surprisingly, Presley discovers that the hotbed of gossip and best source for information from the locals comes from a completely foreign and complex world. ..of Bingo competitions.
While Presley is spurred on by a sense of justice and loyalty to her friends, her natural and extremely likable demeanor make her investigation completely inoffensive to those she questions and she has the refreshing technique of actually keeping the investigating detective up-to-date on her discoveries. Presley’s crime-scene cleaning boyfriend resignedly accepts her determination to place herself in the midst of a murder investigation and her friends do what they can to aid her. The author as well adds the realistically sad yet optimistic element of Presley’s much-married mother, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s yet continues to be a loving and very helpful asset to Presley.
Party planning tips are sprinkled throughout the mystery and never distract from what is an extremely well-crafted and well-plotted mystery. Clues could lead the reader to the reveal of the murderer yet Warner obscures them so well with the numerous McGuffins and suspects that it’s more likely that the identity of the villain will be a surprise. This is an extremely fun, light read that should not be underestimated. The fifth in this Party-Planning Mystery series is so well-written that it goes down as smoothly as the most expensive chardonnay.
To enter to win a copy of Killer Wine, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Wine”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 22, 2012. U.S. residents only.
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How to Party with Presley Parker
by Penny Warner
Presley Parker—in the house! Thanks for the invitation, Lorie. My RSVP is below.
For those party people I’ve not met yet, I’m a party—I mean event planner—who seems to have more party fouls than most. I mean, how often does a dead body turn up at your party? Once? Maybe twice? Certainly not more than that. I don’t know why this happens to me. I got into this business because I wanted to show people a good time (without putting my number on the bathroom wall) and at the same time help raise money for a good cause (chocolate addiction, etc.).
But after my first party, How To Host A Killer Party, ended so badly, it’s a wonder I’m still in business. It was supposed to be a surprise wedding for the mayor’s fiancé—but she ended up floating in the San Francisco Bay. As you can imagine, everything went downhill from there. Still, who plans a “surprise” wedding for a woman? That’s just nuts. We girls have been planning our weddings since we were three years old. No wonder the bride-won’t-be ended up dead. There was nothing left to live for. Am I right?
So my next party, How To Crash A Killer Bash, was held at the prestigious de Young Museum. Who knew an artful killer lurked among the art and artifacts? I probably shouldn’t have planned a Murder Mystery theme, but they’re all the rage and I thought it would make a great fundraiser. I just didn’t count on the person playing the victim to end up with an artifact in her back.
I was so excited about How To Survive A Killer Séance, since it was set at the mysterious Winchester Mystery House. Talk about the perfect place for a murder. But a real murder wasn’t part of my plan. I mean, just searching for a dead body in that 140-room mansion would take hours. But as fate would have it, someone turned up dead right after I brought deceased Sarah Winchester back to life in the séance room. With this kind of luck, I should play the lottery.
I thought about giving up the whole business when a friend asked me to host How To Party With A Killer Vampire. He’s a movie producer who films on Treasure Island where I live and work, and I just couldn’t say no (he promised me a part in the movie). But I should have turned it down when I found out he wanted the party held in a local cemetery! Talk about atmosphere…Warning: When you add a real dead body to a post-production vampire film, all hell breaks loose.
For my latest party, I was asked to host How To Dine On Killer Wine, a wine-tasting event in the Napa Valley wine country! The host owns a Tuscan-style villa there and wanted to showcase his latest wine, along with a few amuse bouches (yeah, I had to look it up too. Means “small bites.”) Anyway, when a body is found under the wine-tasting table with a corkscrew in her back, I realized there wasn’t enough wine on the planet to help me cope with the aftermath. Did someone say “screwed?”
But partying is in my blood (so to speak). I had my first party when I was two. It was a simple affair—just pretend tea, some pretend cookies, with my teddy bear and dolls as guests. By the time I got to college, I had really developed a skill for partying. Unfortunately, the university I was attending asked me to “party elsewhere,” since they didn’t offer a degree in “Partying.” Party poopers.
I can only hope my next gig is something nice and quiet. Maybe a simple Hot Flash Bash or Barbie and Ken Go Redneck Party. I can’t take any more murders. My crime scene cleaner boyfriend is great at getting blood out of the carpet, but I think he’s tired of it. Oh well. Wait until I throw him a surprise party for his birthday. I’m sure he’ll love it. I’m planning a Hunger Games party theme, where the guests try to kill each other and be the last survivor. Should be a killer party!
Contact Penny Warner at pennywarnerink@yahoo[dot]com or http://www.pennywarner.com
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