Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Host a Killer Party (Party Planning, #1)” as Want to Read:
How to Host a Killer Party (Party Planning, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Host a Killer Party

(Party Planning #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  686 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Don't let murder crash your party.

Presley Parker was just happy to get her party planning business off the ground. Now she's gotten the gig of the year, planning Mayor Davin Green's sumptuous "surprise" wedding for his socialite fiancée, to be held on Alcatraz.

But when the bride is found floating in the bay and the original party planner is found murdered, Presley bec
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by NAL
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How to Host a Killer Party, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How to Host a Killer Party

Beautiful Creatures by Kami GarciaThe Dark Divine by Bree DespainUnearthly by Cynthia HandEvermore by Alyson NoelNightshade by Andrea Cremer
The Color Purple
1,299 books — 332 voters
The Wedding Diary by Margaret JamesVision in White by Nora RobertsBed of Roses by Nora RobertsHappy Ever After by Nora RobertsSavor the Moment by Nora Roberts
Fictional Planners
107 books — 90 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  686 ratings  ·  67 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of How to Host a Killer Party (Party Planning, #1)
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 The first in the Party Planning mystery series. This cozy is a fun and quick read. I like the setting of Treasure Island just a boat ride from San Francisco.

Presley Parker is an event planner and owner of Killer Parties. She is planning a surprise wedding for Mayor Davin Green and his unsuspecting beautiful socialite fiancée, Ikea Takeda. The party will take place on Alcatraz Island. In the prison. Everyone who’s anyone will be there. Everything starts out well until the mayor pops the ques
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, cozies
A wonderful start to a great series.

After Presley Parker gets fired, she starts a party planning business on Treasure Island in San Francisco. Her mother was big in the business back in the day.

Presley gets her first big break when the mayor asks her to plan a party on Alcatraz, where he plans to ask a woman to marry him.

Bad idea.

The fiancee is murdered, and a number of other murders follow. To keep her business and herself alive, Presley has to find the killer.

Penny Warner is one of the most un
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Good first entry in the series. I liked the characters and the San Francisco setting was fun. I caught on to the culprit just a hair before Presley. #readforkimberly
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drop-series
Ok, this will be the weirdest review ever. I really disliked this book and almost quit reading it twice. The heroine is so aggravating and ditsy she should never be allowed to go anywhere alone - and certainly not driving. She would think things like, "oh that girl from that movie who went into the basement with all the lights out is too stupid to live" but then she would do and say whatever popped up in her non-filtered little mind and trust me, it was stupid. Other than the way she treated her ...more
Aug 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Posted at:

A surprise party, Alcatraz and a murder...

Presley is just starting as a party planner and all of the sudden she's planning one of the most important parties ever, Mayor David Green's surprise wedding. If this party goes as planned, she will be the most famous party planner in the city! But of course, parties never goes as planned.

The bride is dead, and everyone thinks she did it. When the Detective doesn't believe her, she starts her own in
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a breath of fresh air for the cozy mystery genre!

It was such a pleasure getting to know Presley Parker, Event Planner and owner of Killer Parties, in San Fransisco.

When the mayor hires Presley to host a suprise wedding for his fiance, Ikea Takeda, things go wrong when the bride to be washes up dead in the bay.

Having had numerous people attending the party, Presley turns into the number one suspect, so she uses her party planning skills to catch the murderer. Things dont always go well for
Rachel- Goodbye Borders
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020, m-g
Presley is a party planner (I mean event coordinator!) who also has ADHD. She was laid off at her prior job in the psych department at the U of San Fran. She has a habit of diagnosing people. Her mom, who now has dementia, was a successful party planner, so Presley hopes to take up the reins. She gets a chance hosting the mayor's surprise Alcatraz. Things don't go as planned and there are 2 dead bodies and Presley is considered a suspect.
I did like this. I was interested and the wh
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was a fine debut to what, hopefully, becomes a long-lived series. The humor, plot, unusual characters, and locations were an instant draw to me. Having lived on Treasure Island during it's Navy/Marine Corps days, I was intrigued by the facts of history that the novel pulled out and thought the Island has become far more interesting than during my 'tour.'

Event Planner, Presley is the type of gal ready to try anything once. She even attempts a Mayoral wedding on Alcatraz...

My attention w
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be annoying. The main character is a psychology professor turned party planner. She psycho-analyzes all the other characters in the book, assigning various mental illnesses. And everything she herself did was because she had ADHD. Maybe it's because I know annoying people who do this in real life, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.
Dec 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2010
Started out slow, but picked up steam as it went along. A murder at a party on Alcatraz. How'd Presley get caught up in the whole thing!
Celine Sng
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Presley Parker is a psychologist-turned-event planner. When she got the gig to plan Mayor Green’s suprise party-slash-wedding, she ends up being the Number One Suspect in the murder of the future bride. And Presley can't afford to go to prison because it'll hurt her reputation, as well as her finances. So what’s a girl to do? She starts investigating the murder, with and without the help of Brad Matthews, the mysterious (but hot) crime scene cleaner.

This is the first cozy mystery I've read on e
Pres is happy to get her business off the ground even if she is begining with small time kids parties. Then she gets the gig of the year planning Mayor Davin Green's wedding for is socialite fiancee, to be held at Alcatraz.

This was a surprise wedding and everyone had a big surprise when the bride to be washes up on shore after fleeing her own wedding. Presley the wedding planner becones the #1 suspect and while she does not think she will look good in a orange jumpsuit the dective on the case se
Sarah Sammis
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Last January Booking Through Thursday asked for our recommendations of "favorite unknown" authors. I posted about Penny Warner and quickly received a lovely response from her with an offer to review her newest book, How to Host a Killer Party. I was even invited to the launch party which I attended and came home with bookmarks and other fun stuff. So please go into this review knowing that I am a fan who carried my review copy around as if it were glued to my hand for the week I was reading it.

Diane ~Firefly~
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, cat
Since I like cozies, I'm used to reckless heroines, it is almost a prerequisite. However, they are usually just reckless with their own safety, but not in this case. After the first incident I was about ready to give up on the book. After the second, I stuck around just to see how bad it would get.

(view spoiler)
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amateur-sleuth
When it comes to cozy mystery with 1st person narrative, the key, for me personally, is that I have to at least like the main character so that I want to follow her sleuthing journey. Unfortunately, I find Presley Parker to be ANNOYING AS HELL!!!

Not only she tries to diagnose everyone she meets, she hides evidence from the police, she tries to get the answer by saying "I'm trying to help the police find out who might have had a reason to harm the victim". WTF?! Pretentious and arrogant much?!?

Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the first of a new series.
Presley is getting her business off the ground as a party planner. She was downsized at the university and her mother is in a care center with Alzheimers. She has had to downsize her lifestyle, but things are starting to look up when the Mayor has her throwning a combination fundraiser/surprise wedding for him and his fiance at Alcatraz. Everything seems to be going okay. Her help has it all set up, the guests have all arrived and everyone is just waiting for th
Lynn Lerch
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Penny Warner sure knows how to make you feel you are there. Does that make sense? Alcatras seems as creepy as it really is. The history she brings in is very interesting. I felt like I was living on Treasure Island. If those of you don't know what TI is it is made a man made island attached to Yurba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay with the Bay Bridge connecting it to Oakland and SF.
The party planner has a crazy mom with Alzheimers and thinks she is still in high society. Someone
Diane Rapport
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Presley Parker is an event planner. She gets a big career break when she is asked to plan a "surprise" wedding for the mayor of San Francisco at a party held on Alcatraz. Unfortunately, the bride-to-be isn't interested, and she runs off. She is later found dead, floating in the bay. Then the original event planner also turns up dead, so Presley decides she has to find the killer, fearing that she might be accused of both murders. I picked up this book - along with book 2 in the series - because ...more
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Penny Warner writes with life, energy and humor. Tongue set firmly in cheek, she takes us on an adventure around the City by the Bay. From Alcatraz to Treasure Island and throughout San Francisco, our protagonist, party & event planner Presley Parker, valiantly endeavors to catch a killer before she gets arrested as the prime suspect or, worse yet, becomes the next victim!

The book includes vivid characters, humor and enough action to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. This is NOT a grim,
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
it was a fun read. I don't know if it was me or whether my mind was in tune with the author but from the early part of the book I was sure who was the killer.
-I like Presley, she's likeable for me,
-I like the side characters, all the other people she shares office space
-mystery itself was enjoyable
-like the setting of San Francisco and getting to know more about the history
-like the premise of the story

-too much psychoanalyzing especially in the end
-ADHD is her reason for everything
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Review also posted at The Wandering Fangirl.

I figured I could use some light, fun reading among all the ghost/dystopian books I've been reading, but I reeeeally picked wrong this time. I don't take my popcorn books as seriously as the others I read, so I give them a lot of leeway. But I got about halfway through How to Host a Killer Party and realized I didn't care about what was going on. It was cute, sure, and Presley Parker is a fun protagonist, but this is a case of the book just not being f
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
What a great cozy read! It was a great afternoon read...

I enjoyed the premise of the story, the setting and the characters. I thought the idea of having a wedding at Alcatraz was a hoot, even though the idea of the bride going along with wedding (there) wasn't believable, especially it being a surprise. I also found the mystery interesting and it kept me guessing on who the guilty party was. Presley having ADHD truly explained certain things but after so many mentions of her hyper-activity got a
❂ Murder by Death
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cozy-mystery
If the author had mentioned the main character had ADHD one more time, honestly I would have set fire to the book. The story itself was good, the plot interesting and the premise intrigued me but at the end, I didn't like the main character. Her habit of diagnosing everyone she met at the beginning of the story with some ab. psyche ailment turned me off and nothing that happened in the later half of the book could compensate. I don't think I'll be reading any of her other books in this series.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
I totally relate to the heroine since my masters is in counseling from San Francisco State and I have one of those purple and gold sweatshirts!!!!! I haven't been to Alcatraz but just 50 pages in on the bus ride home and I'm thinking it's time to play tourist and go.

Totally fun reads. If you live in San Francisco you can easily imagine where the scenes are happening; if you haven't been here you'll definitely want to come check it out.

I pretty much figured out who done it but it didn't stop the
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of my favorite mystery series are set in San Francisco and I have added a new one now. I have this whole series on the Wanton Wantin' Book List. At first it was because of the cool titles, especially the latest one, HOW TO PARTY WITH A KILLER VAMPIRE. I will read the whole series to get to that title. And enjoy the ride with it.
Presley Parker is an event organizer, party planner, what have you...She is really good at what she does and wants to be a force to be reckoned with...if she can ge
Mark Baker
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, mystery
Presley Parker's party planning business might finally be entering the big leagues when she is asked to host the mayor's surprise wedding on Alcatraz. But things take a turn for the worse when the bride to be storms off only to turn up dead and the police want to talk to Presley. I found the pacing in the middle a bit uneven, but a great beginning and climax coupled with warm characters make me want to read more.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Better than average mystery with detailed plot and setting...I found the background and descriptions of Treasure Island particularly interesting as I had been there back in 1999 and loved the spectacular views. The only thing that kind of put me off was that two characters were named Delicia and Ikea. I'm sure that the hokiness of this was purely intentional, but it was hard to take either of these characters seriously!
Feb 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I bought the book and then read the reviews on Good Reads and thought, "I hope this will be okay and not a waste of my time...." I can happily say How to Host a Killer Party was a fun read and a great way to spend my afternoon. I thought that party planner, Presley Parker,was an entertaining main character, although I thought she brought up the fact that she had HDHD a few too many times. I loved the San Fran and Treasure Island references. Fun, yet believable.
Apr 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
So I only got 40 pages into this book, then I gave up. There was just something about it that was annoying me and nothing interesting was happening. I hate how the character kept referring to her ADHD. I really thought I'd enjoy it as the main character also has a degree in psychology. But instead I just found all the facts she was throwing out there and using it to judge other people was really annoying.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Chocolate Mouse Trap (A Chocoholic Mystery, #5)
  • A Wedding to Die For (A Yellow Rose Mystery, #2)
  • Knit One, Kill Two (A Knitting Mystery, #1)
  • It's a Cat's World . . . You Just Live in It: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Furry Feline
  • Last Known Victim (Stacy Killian, #3; The Malones, #4)
  • Infected (Infected, #1)
  • Engaged in Death (Wedding Planner Mystery #1)
  • The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1)
  • Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders
  • Bastard Out of Carolina
  • Brownies and Broomsticks (A Magical Bakery Mystery, #1)
  • A Muddied Murder (A Greenhouse Mystery #1)
  • Glory in Death (In Death, #2)
  • Let's Kill Mom
  • A Dark and Stormy Murder (A Writer's Apprentice Mystery, #1)
  • Home Sweet Murder
  • The Mournful Teddy (A Bear Collector's Mystery #1)
  • Skulduggery
See similar books…
Penny Warner is an award-winning author of over sixty books, including DEAD BODY LANGUAGE mystery series (Macavity winner), HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY series, and the upcoming Food Festival series. Her middle-grade mystery, THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, won the Agatha Award for Best Children's Mystery.

Other books in the series

Party Planning (5 books)
  • How to Crash a Killer Bash (Party Planning, #2)
  • How to Survive a Killer Séance (Party Planning, #3)
  • How to Party with a Killer Vampire (Party Planning, #4)
  • How to Dine on Killer Wine (Party Planning, #5)

Related Articles

Fresh off the success of her World Fantasy Award–winning novel Witchmark comes a standalone romantic fantasy from author C.L. Polk. In The...
43 likes · 2 comments