How to Survive a Killer Séance: A Party-Planning Mystery by Penny Warner

How to Survive a Killer Séance Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Warner does it again in her third “Party-Planning Mystery,” How to Survive a Killer Séance. Like the first two books in the series, San Francisco’s premiere party planner Presley Parker has an “A” list of guests expected at one of the city’s cultural institutions for her event. This time it’s the Winchester Mystery House with party host Jonathan Ellington. He has asked for a séance themed party to unveil his new product. His idea is to use a hologram during a séance to bring the house’s former resident, Sarah Winchester back from the dead-all in good fun of course! Given this is a mystery, it’s a no-brainer that an all too real body will turn up. And since it happened at one of her events, Presley will be involved in the investigation dragging her crime scene cleaning neighbor Brad into it as well.

As with the first two books in the series, the mystery in How to Survive a Killer Séance is well plotted, with plenty of clues and possible suspects for the reader to mull over while seeking the solution. There is much humor thrown in along the way, giving the book a sharp and snappy feeling. Presley is a star protagonist and Brad, the crime scene cleaner, is a great side kick. They are both characters that are quite easy to like.

Aside from the mystery and characters though, the books are set in real places so reading one of Warner’s mysteries is like taking a little field trip to one of the San Francisco area’s institutions. For those readers who like to know more, here is the link for the website of the Winchester Mystery House is and well worth looking over. And it’s not just the party sites that are real. The author’s descriptions of the Bay area are dead on accurate.

Another angle to this book that is a positive is the party planning theme. There are suggestions for the particular theme used as heading for each chapter as well as a couple of pages of more information at the end of the book. The suggestions given can easily be adjusted for use with various sized events or budgets.

The next book in the series is due out in the fall of 2012. This is far too long to have to wait to visit Presley and gang again!

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