Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How To Dine On Killer Wine - Penny Warner

How To Dine On Killer Wine
A Party Planning Mystery
Penny Warner


 Event planner Presley Parker is in the final stages of planning a wine-tasting event.  The party will take place at a small winery in Napa Valley to launch the winery’s new vintage, Purple Grape.  It should be a great party that will bring Presley more business if all goes well.  The night before the party, there’s a private dinner at the California Culinary College.  Everything is lovely until JoAnne Douglas crashes the event.

JoAnne claims to be an environmentalist, but the small vintners around Napa see her more as an expensive nuisance.  The truth is, it’s nearly impossible for a winery to be as green as JoAnne demands.  And she backs up her demands with lawsuits.  For small wineries, it’s a real problem, especially with the huge conglomerate Napology trying to buy up all the small places in an attempt to WalMart-ize wine production.  JoAnne manages to escape the private party with nothing worse than a face full of thrown wine.  The following day, she’s not so lucky.  After the party, the clean-up crew finds her body under a serving table, with a corkscrew in her chest.

The main, and most obvious, suspect is Rob Christopher, the owner of the winery and Presley’s host.  His prints were on the corkscrew and a search of the house turned up one of JoAnne’s shoes (also with Rob’s prints) under his bed.  This makes no sense to Presley, for all kinds of reasons.  Despite warnings from the local police and those around her, Presley can’t stop herself from asking questions that need answers.  This time around, she has her mother, Veronica, San Francisco’s grande dame of parties, to help her.

The relationship between Presley and Veronica is really the heart of this series.  Veronica was a great lady in her day, and can tell stories about everyone who was anyone in San Francisco.  She’s also in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  Presley dreads the future, but in the present, she’s wonderful with her mom.  I’m still holding out hope for a spin-off series starring Veronica in her heyday. 

Travelling with her mom does quite a bit to help Presley uncover the truth in this case.  The residents of Napa Valley are like characters in a soap opera, and that’s not a bad thing.  The characters are all very entertaining, and the final resolution of the twisty case makes sense once all the facts are known.  Presley/the author begins every chapter with tips on throwing your own wine-tasting party, and there are more party tips at the end.  This series is unfailingly entertaining, with unique settings and casts of characters for each party/case.  I wouldn’t miss one of Presley’s parties for anything.  If you’ve missed previous parties (HOW TOHOST A KILLER PARTY, HOW TO CRASH A KILLER BASH, HOW TO SURVIVE A KILLER SÉANCE, HOW TO PARTY WITH A KILLER VAMPIRE) you’ve missed a lot of fun.

Rating: 7 ½
July 2012
ISBN# 978-0-451-23786-6


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