HOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE
Written by a successful party planner, this is a little weak in both the party-planning and mystery areas. It’s an enjoyably fast read with sympathetic characters and a brisk mystery, but the emotional base is weak, even for a cozy. Additionally, Presley has no real reason to solve the crime: the suspect is not unsympathetic but readers don’t really get to know him well enough to care.
Party planner Presley Parker is organizing a wine-tasting party at a small boutique vineyard in the Napa Valley. There’s trouble from the beginning. An over-the-top environmentalist threatens to stop the party. The sister of the owner is a former addict and clearly up to something. Presley’s mother comes along but her Alzheimer’s is accelerating and Presley needs to keep an eye on her. Then the environmentalist is murdered and the husband-owner of the winery is arrested. Presley is sure he didn’t do it and wants to clear him. Party tips start each chapter and there is an afterword about planning a wine and cheese-tasting party. (OBSIDIAN, Jul., 320 pp., $7.99)