How to Dine on Killer Wine: 02/06/13
How to Dine on Killer Wine by Penny Warner is the fifth of the Party Planner mysteries, all of which are set in and around San Francisco. This one takes Presley to Napa — one of two large wine producing areas in the North Bay.
Presley has been hired by a winery to put on a party to celebrate the launch of a new line of wines. There's also a lot of bad blood between the rival wineries. At the two extremes: an eco-warrior who wants to get every winery to be green certified; and a giant conglomerate who is buying up the smaller wineries to produce massive amounts of cheap (box) wine.
So of course a guest ends up dead. Her most memorable parties end up this way. And of course, her client is accused with the crime. Somewhere in the middle of the rivalries and the Bingo night gossip is the truth. Presley with the help of her mother are on the case!
Any qualms I had about the direction of the series (see my review of How to Party with a Killer Vampire) were put to rest in How to Dine on Killer Wine. Clearly Presley is back in her element — catering at famous landmarks around the Bay. The Napa Valley felt like Napa and the rivalries came off as believable.
The tension between the different characters as well as Presley's removal from the urban bustle of San Francisco, brings to mind another book I read around the same time, Winter Study by Nevada Barr. The approach, though, is much lighter in Warner's book.