Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Review: How to Survive a Killer Seance by Penny Warner (Party Planner Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters; great setting;
Cons: Story could have used a slight polish, but it's still fun
The Bottom Line
Characters are great
The story is mostly strong
Perfect atmosphere




Party at the Winchester Mystery House Complete with Sarah Winchester's Ghost and a Dead Body

Presley Parker is an event planner in San Francisco.  She plans high end events that everyone will be talking about.  Of course, since this is a mystery series, her events also end with a dead body or two she hadn't planned on.  How to Survive a Killer Seance is the third book in the series, and it's another fun party.

Presley is hoping to put her previous party disasters behind her, but things get off to a rocky start when she agrees to host a seance party for Jonathan Ellington.  Jonathan is a micromanager, and his wife's tastes in decorations are cheap.

This party is a chance for Jonathan to introduce his revolutionary 4D projection system.  They're hosting it at the famous Winchester Mystery House, and as the main event, Jonathan is going to use the software to bring Sarah Winchester back to life to interact with his guests.

Things seem to be going well at the party until Sarah takes on a life of her own.  Her voice suddenly changes and she accuses Jonathan of having multiple affairs.  He and his wife rush out of the room and disappear.  Meanwhile, Presley finds a dead body.  When people start turning to Presley to find the answers, can she make sense of it all?

As soon as I learned the premise of the book, I was excited.  I mean, really, how awesome would a seance and murder taking place at the Winchester Mystery House be?  Maybe it's just because I have always had a fascination with the place, although I've only been there once.  The beginning of the book was a little slow for me since lots of background on the house and Sarah Winchester is given.  It's necessary for the atmosphere of the book, but I wish the action could have started a little sooner.

Once the book got going, it was a great ride.  While there was plenty of action outside of the famous House, there were plenty of scenes set there, too.  I was quite confused by all that was happening until the killer was revealed at the end.  The ending did seem a little rough in places, but the lose ends were tied up.

Over the course of the two previous books, I feel like I've gotten to know Presley, and it was great to spend time with her again.  Fortunately, her ADHD wasn't played up quite as much as it was in the previous books.  Her love interest, Brad, is still a great guy, although he still has a few secrets that need to be explored.

The new characters are an interesting mix, and really propel the story forward.  I don't like Jonathan at all, but he's such a great character.  Most of the others come across as quite real, too, although a few of them aren't given enough page time to full develop.

As always, the book is filled with tips on giving a party of your own fitting the theme.  There are tips for a seance party at the beginning of each chapter plus several pages at the end with more specifics.

How to Survive a Killer Seance is another fun, fast read that will be over before you know it.  Here's hoping that Presley has the misfortune to host many more murderous parties.

You should plan to read the Party Planning Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in hopes I would review it.

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