Monday, October 3, 2011


Publisher: Signet
Date published: February 2010
ISBN: 978-0451229304
Cozy Mystery
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained Via library

Recently laid off San Francisco State instructor Presley Parker isn’t one to take the loss of a job laying down. Rather than brood she follows in her mother’s footsteps and opens up Killer Parties. As party planner—o0ps! Make that event coordinator—Presley arranges fetes from take offs on Twilight to murder mysteries to unique requests such as a ball and chain party on Alcatraz. The ball and chain isn’t exactly what you’d expect, despite the festivities being on Alcatraz. The items refer to the surprise wedding of San Francisco mayor Davin Green and society princess, Ikea. As she arrives on Alcatraz to begin setting up for the party, billed as a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s to lure the bride-to-be out to the “Rock”, Presley receives a phone call from San Francisco police detective, Luke Melvin. Apparently Presley’s former #1 competitor, Andi Saxe, has been found dead—murdered and Melvin wants to talk to Presley.

When the surprise purpose of the ball and chain party is revealed Ikea balks and runs back to the ferry to San Francisco. Or so the rest of the party-goers think. The next morning, avoiding Melvin and what she is sure will be her arrest – after all, she got the job when Andi was suddenly fired – what better way to keep the competition forever from her door? Presley stumbles on Ikea’s body. Presley begins to wonder why all these dead bodies keep turning up basically right on her doorstep. Before she can delve too deeply into the mystery, mysterious things begin to happen to Presley.

I was “introduced” to Penny Warner’s Party Planning series when I won a copy of her second book, HOW TO CRASH A KILLER BASH when I commented on a blog that I loved books taking place in San Francisco. How could I not? It is, essentially, my home town. I’m one of those people who has to read a series in order and so went and borrowed a copy of HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY from my local library. San Franciscans and Bay Area residents will, without a doubt, love this series. As Presley traverses our famed Golden Gate Bridge, toddles around Treasure Island and hits various well-known and favorite venues, you feel like you are there with her. Non-residents alike will enjoy Presley’s running commentary of civic center, Alcatraz, Sausalito and other favorite spots. You don’t have to know the city to thoroughly enjoy the literary tour through the bay area.

Presley is totally likeable and if she were a person you’d want to join her cadre of co-workers. Each chapter begins with a party planning tip – some humorous, some eminently practical. While most of the characters have a slightly stereotypical bent, they are part of what makes the story enjoyable. HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY is a fast moving read.

Well researched, I was surprised when the author was a tad off base about some of the police issues, i.e., a 1021 in ten code is a telephone call; not a jumper off the bridge. As a former CHP dispatcher I handled my share of suicidal subjects on the bridge and our CAD code was either a welfare check, 5150 or jumper. There were one or two other police procedures that were incorrect, but only a member of law enforcement would notice. The instances, in no way, detract from what is really a very fun story.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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