|Presley Parker’s latest event for her party planning company, Killer Parties, is a wine tasting at the Purple Grape in the Napa Valley. Her crew is eager to spend a couple of days in the lovely setting and Presley is looking forward to a little spa time while there. Presley decides to take her mother Veronica, who is in a home since presenting with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease; Veronica is a little eccentric, and a romantic at heart, and Presley tries to enjoy as much time with her as she can while Veronica is still lucid.
Presley is delighted with the Tuscanesque setting of the Purple Grape and their host Rob is very gracious. Presley is disturbed, however, when she hears of JoAnne Douglas, the president of the Green Grape Association, a group whose members believe that the local winery practices are damaging the eco-system. Joanne is an overzealous member whose requests might actually not only damage the balance of the environment but hurt the economy of the Napa Valley.
JoAnne also threatens to try and stop the Purple Grape’s wine tasting event, much to Presley’s dismay. The morning after the party, when Presley and her boyfriend Brad are cleaning up, they find JoAnne’s body under one of the tables and the weapon appears to be one of Rob’s antique corkscrews. Plenty of people in Napa Valley hated JoAnne but all the evidence points toward the Purple Grape.
When one of Rob’s employees is found floating in a vat of wine, not only is that batch ruined, but police hone in on Rob as the primary suspect. Presley isn’t convinced and starts poking around on her own and finds that it isn’t as idyllic in Napa as it first appears.
As always, Presley plans a great party and includes plenty of tips how to host a similar event. Her crew, made up of some zany personalities, isn’t as much in evidence this time out, though Presley gets a lot of quality time with Brad and her mother. Presley is very good with her mother, knowing that the time they will have together while her mother is still aware of herself and her surroundings grows shorter each day. Presley also struggles with attention deficit disorder, but has learned many coping skills.
There are several good choices for the murderer and many motives as Presley quickly learns what a political hotbed the Napa Valley and winemaking can be. A large conglomerate taking over many of the smaller vineyards adds a subplot that fits nicely with both JoAnne’s murder and Rob’s struggle to keep his independent vineyard and winery viable.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry