24 June 2010

Just finished reading...

How to Crash a Killer Bash by Penny Warner.*

The sequel to How to Host a Killer Party has party event planner Presley Parker hosting another fundraising bash. This one is benefit for San Francisco's DeYoung Museum, and will be a murder mystery event in the museum. The hostess us philanthropist Mary Lee Miller, who has decided to play the role of the victim herself.

But on the night of the party, when the victim is found, Mary Lee is discovered to actually be dead.

There is no shortage of suspects for the crime, as Ms. Miller was arrogant, demanding and abrasive. But Presley's assistant Delicia (dating the Mary Lee's son Corbin, to the displeasure of his mother) who had a public argument with the hostess the previous day, is arrested.

Presley is horrified, especially since Delicia believes it was she who told the police about the argument, and determines to clear Delicia by finding the real killer.

She is aided in her quest by enigmatic crime-scene cleaner Brad Matthews and hindered by police detective Luke Melvin, who thinks that Presley is a clumsy, interfering snoop.

Presley uses her experience as an abnormal psychology instructor, as well as her Party-Planning Checklist as a template for her investigative process. (Party Plan - What's the occasion?; Investigative Plan - What's the crime?) It works pretty well, except that Presley does tend to be accident-prone. In this book, she goes through almost as many cars as Stephanie Plum does in one of her investigations.

Except for Brad, the rest of the characters (even Delicia) tend to be pretty one-dimensional, but we do see more of Presley's charming relationship with her mother, who has early-stage Alzheimer's.

Warner, author of the Connor Westphal mysteries, is not unfamiliar with the party-planning process, having written several books on the subject.

Received ARC from publisher.

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