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How to Dine on Killer Wine: A Party-Planning Mystery [Mass Market Paperback]

Penny Warner

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Book Description

July 3 2012 Party Planning Mystery (Book 5)
Presley Parker’s event-planning business is the toast of San Francisco. But when she ventures into Napa Valley to oversee her first wine tasting, an unexpected death could leave a stain on her reputation.…

For Presley Parker, a wine-tasting event at the boutique winery the Purple Grape is a job worth savoring. But she quickly discovers that, even in idyllic Napa Valley, local politics can have a bitter finish. JoAnne Douglas, president of the Green Grape Association environmental group, believes the wineries are damaging the local environment, and she’s determined to sabotage the event. But Presley manages to pull the party off without a hitch. Until JoAnne’s lifeless body is discovered under one of the tables….

JoAnne had plenty of enemies in the area, but all evidence points to Purple Grape owners Rob and Marie Christopher as the murderers. Now it’s up to Presley to clear their names before someone else gets corked.


Includes wine-tasting party tips!

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (July 3 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451237862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451237866
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.2 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #774,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for the Party-Planning Mystery Series

“The Killer Party series is delightful!”—Meritorious Mysteries

“A party you don’t want to miss.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Denise Swanson

“The books dish up a banquet of mayhem.”—The Oakland Tribune

About the Author

Penny Warner has published over fifty fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children, including over a dozen party books. Her books have won national awards, been nominated for Agatha Awards, garnered excellent reviews, and been printed in fourteen countries. Known as the Queen of Parties, she’s planned over five hundred parties and events, and published twenty books on party planning. Along with her husband, Tom, she creates interactive murder-mystery fund-raisers for libraries across the country. 

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'M DONE WITH THIS SILLY SERIES July 26 2012
By bluesdiva - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
OK I know we have to take some of these cozies with a grain of salt. We all know that florists, coffeehouse managers, gardeners etc don't get involved in murder after murder after murder in real life. In most of these types of books, though, the florist etc has a reason for getting involved. In the Presley Parker books, not so much. The premise in this series is always the same-someone gets murdered at one of Presley's events and she decides to solve the murder. Why? I don't know. Just BECAUSE. In this book, Presley does not know the victim and yes, the person arrested for the murder is one of her clients but she doesn't know them. They are not friends of hers. In fact she has just met them the day before the murder-which in itself is strange. You would think that if planning a huge event that took months to put together, at some point you would have met the people throwing the party, but when Presley arrives at the hosts' villa the day before the party, introductions are made. SO,she doesn't know these people from Adams's house cat. Why is she so convinced that the person arrested is innocent? Just because. So Presley goes running around making lists, interrogating suspects, snooping in offices. She ,for some reason, thinks the Napa Valley Police should share all their info with her. She doesn't feel the need to reciprocate though. For instance, a second murder victim turns up. When the police come to the scene of the crime, Presley never bothers to tell the cops that the murder victim left her a voice mail message just hours before his death, urging her to meet him. Wouldn't the police have wanted to know that? Why didn't she tell them? WHO does she think she is?
And, I guess, therein lies the problem I have with this series. I just don't particularly like Presley Parker. And one thing she did in this book made me lose all respect for her:
The hosts of the pary, graciously invite Presley and her mother to stay in their home during the festivities. They are given adjoining guest bedrooms. Presley has no qualms whatsoever about SNEAKING her boyfriend into these people's home so he can spend the night in her room. Inappropriate. Unprofessional and just plain CRASS. The bottom line is this series is just silly. No more for me
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! July 24 2012
By Lori Caswell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of my favorite series!

Presley Parker's event planning business is the toast of San Francisco. In this installment she takes her business on the road to Napa Valley for a wine tasting event for the Purple Grape, a boutique winery.

JoAnne Douglas, the head of the Green Grape Association, an environmental group, believes the small local wineries are ruining the local environment and she is determined to shut down the event.

But the corks are popped, the amuse-bouches have been served, and a good time was had by all. Well almost everyone. While Presley and her crew was doing the clean up chores, they were shocked by what they found under one of the tables. The what was a who, and none other than JoAnne Douglas and she was quite dead.

Of course all the evidence points to the hosts of the party, but the victim had several individuals that wouldn't mind seeing her corked. Presley is on the case to find the real culprit even if she has to take some time and taste a lot of wine in the process.

I love this series and all the reoccurring characters. Meeting the winery owners this time was quite a treat, they are as unique as their homes. The wineries are marvelous, picture a medieval castle complete with suits of armor or a Tuscan style mansion. Penny Warner is so descriptive in her writing you almost feel like you are right there in Napa Valley.

Presley just can't stop herself, she just has to do her own investigating and takes her mother along for the ride. Thankfully Brad is there to clean up most the messes she gets herself into. My favorite character in this edition was definitely Presley's mom. She is battling early Alzheimer's but she doesn't let it slow her down.

Warner also includes some Party Planning Tips for wine tasting parties or those of us just wanting to learn more about wine. We also learn what about another great pastime in the Valley. No spoilers here you will have to read the book.

Pure pleasure to read. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine. Sit back and enjoy this perfect party mystery. It is most definitely A Perfect Escape!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Sept. 29 2012
By A Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
While the mystery was okay, like several others, I just don't like the character Presley. She has no reason to be involved in these murders and I can't understand why the police share information with her, just because she's the girlfriend of a guy who cleans up crime scenes.

I also had a problem with not only sneaking her boyfriend into the house she was staying in during a work event (and getting caught doing it), but the repeated snooping...even though she kept getting caught at that too. This is just not an intelligent character.

Hope she matures in the next one because I'm getting tired of her.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun book- great setting Aug. 9 2012
By CJ-MO - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Event planner extraordinaire Presley Parker takes a crash course in wine-testing from her assistant to prepare for an upcoming assignment planning a wine-tasting event at a nearby Napa Valley winery. It promises to be a great weekend for Presley and her team, and everyone is looking forward to working at what should be a fun event. That was before JoAnne Douglas and other protesters from the Green Grape Association threaten to stop the event before it even starts. If there's no event, there's no paycheck for Presley and crew, so she is as anxious as the winery owners for the event to continue as planned. Just when it looks like the wine-tasting at Rob and Marie Christopher's winery is going to continue without a hitch, JoAnne Douglas, the ringleader of the protesters, is found murdered and Presley's client Rob is the prime suspect. Presley doesn't want to get involved, but Rob's wife Marie begs her to stay in Napa and help clear Rob's name. So Presley puts some of her planning skills to use to try to catch a murderer.

The reasoning behind Presley helping the investigation to help a client she hardly knows is a bit thin, but once you get past that, this is a fun mystery. Presley has a great sense of humor, and I like the observations she makes about her event-planning experiences. One distraction in the otherwise excellent writing is the awkward inclusion of product brands. Depending on how they are used, adding a brand can add realism to a book, but when misused, it can take the reader out of a scene. Some of the dialogue seems more like product placement than a way to help the reader visualize the scene, but luckily this didn't occur too frequently.

I like this quick and fun to read book, even though I don't always find Presley likeable! It is admirable the way she takes care of her mother Veronica, who is battling early-onset Alzheimer's disease, and she is a wonderful boss to the employees of her party-planning business. The scenes between Presley and her mother are both amusing and touching and are some of my favorite moments in the book. I hope Veronica's condition stays stable for several books to come.

However, Presley often comes across too immature for someone who owns and manages her own business. She is invited to stay in the winery owners' home, but then she sneaks her boyfriend Brad in for a late-night rendezvous, which seems extremely unprofessional. I would like Presley more if she could manage her life as well as she does her business. I would have also liked to see more everyday interaction between Presley and Brad as well as between Presley and her assistants, who are interesting characters when they do appear. The victim and the suspects are all hiding things which make the investigation harder for Presley, but more exciting for the reader. Overall, the combination of planning a party and solving a murder are more compatible than they seem and Presley is determined to overcome any obstacle to uncover the true murderer.

If you like the Coffee House mysteries by Cleo Coyle, then you should enjoy this new party-planning mystery by Penny Warner. The plot isn't complex, but the interesting characters and humorous dialog make this a book worth reading. Tips are included at the beginning of each chapter and at the end of the book to help you host a wine and cheese-tasting party of your own. Cheers!

This review was originally written for The Season EZine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Presley Parker has once again planned a killer party, a real corker! July 30 2012
By D. Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Presley Parker was pumping herself up for one of her "Killer Parties," and was learning how to appreciate the finer qualities of wine. She didn't appear to be Chef Rocco Ghirenghelli's most talented wine aficionados when her roll-around-the-mouth bit made her look more like she was sampling Lavoris. Presley was a seriously "wine-disabled student," but she was one heck of an event-planner and her upcoming wine-tasting event for Rob and Marie Christopher would undoubtedly be wildly successful and go off without a hitch. One, two, three ... whiff, swish, let it "play" on the palate. Got it. Urrhmm, nope. Maybe she'd better practice a bit more.

Even Presley's boyfriend, Brad Matthews, looked more sophisticated driving his SUV with the crime scene cleaner logo on the side, but by the time she showed up at the Christopher's Tuscany-style mansion, she'd be a pro. They owned the Purple Grape and were throwing a party to introduce their new line. Independent Napa growers were being trounced on by Napology, who was trying to buy them out and then there was that "wine pest," JoAnne Douglas. Everything had to be "green" or she was going to throw a hissy fit. She was known for threatening people, the type of person who wasn't exactly known for winning friends and influencing others.

Victoria, Presley's mother who had early-onset Alzheimers, was hot to trot and appeared to be falling for Larry, her bingo buddy, but the party must go on. And it did. Sleazeball lawyer Kyle Bennett was hitting on Presley, the new merlot was a hit, and the Grape-Stomping River Dancers were gonna stomp. The guests were raving that the party was "off the hook," but everyone had overlooked one little problem. "Oh no. Presley. Not another dead body," Victoria exclaimed to her daughter. Someone had bludgeoned Ms. Douglas with a bottle of merlot and for good measure stabbed her with a corkscrew. Had they been frolicking all the time with a corpse under the table? And then there was the floater. Would Presley be able to figure out whodunit before she became the third one?

Presley Parker has once again planned a killer party, a real corker. The lighthearted nature of the plot and daffy way Presley went about solving this whodunit made the tale very relaxing and popcorn popping fun. Of course her partner, her mother Victoria, pointed her to the bingo hall where "a wealth of information" was awaiting them. This is one of those perfect beach books where Presley, a wannabe Jessica Fletcher, bumbles and stumbles onto clues that lead her right to the culprit (and almost to her own demise). This tale is as delectable as a fine Napa wine and as amusing as a bottle of "Two-Buck Chuck" on sale. If you like your cozy mysteries a tad on the silly side, you'll love this one!

This book courtesy of the publisher.

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