Ghost: Murder most foul, as in the best it is/ But this most foul, strange and unnatural.
Hamlet: Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift/As meditation or the thoughts of love, May sweep to my revenge
Hamlet Act I, Scene 5 -William Shakespeare
Party Girls Die in Pearls set at Oxford in the 1980's is the 21st Century version of Hamlet and Sykes is the new Shakespeare.
Murder is always horrible but in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, the Ghost warns the main character Hamlet that there was something unnatural about the death of his father. Upon hearing this Hamlet wants to take revenge "with wings as swift" or faster than "thoughts of love" or people falling in love.
The Ghost that haunts the characters of Party Girls Die in Pearls by Victoria "Plum" Sykes, who brings the same themes of love, revenge, and an unnatural death to the story, is the actual performance of Hamlet. It is the performance of Hamlet that the murder mystery revolves around.
The time period and setting Plum Sykes has created, pulls the reader into the elite and exclusive world of Oxford in the 80's. Sykes sprinkles the atmosphere with British literary references such as Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde, Frankenstein, Brideshead Revisited, and Lulliputian of "Gulliver's Travels" by Johnathan Swift.
"But Ursula was asleep, still in her party dress, dreaming of Seldom Seen Farm." (Sykes, 180)
As an author, Plum Sykes can take serious topics and lightheartedly weave laughter throughout her stories thus providing elements of truth. Through the character of Ursula Flowerbottom who is a serious but pretty "Fresher" or first year who is a writer we come to understand the stress, the pressure, and excitement of the introduction into the life of an Oxford student that Plum Sykes paints for the reader.
"And India invited me to her shooting party. There's no way she would have invited me to that not wanted me at her funeral." Nancy (Sykes, 259)
As with all of Plum Sykes stories there is humor that supports rather than detracts from the plot. One of my favorite scenes is when one of the male characters hands are tied up in a yellow silk taffeta sash belonging to a ball gown ribbon because that is all Nancy Feingold, an extravagant fashionista has in her room.
She provides the American exchange student Nancy Feingold otherwise known as "Lawnmower" or "Nancy Doodle Dandy" to provide the lightheartedness to Ursula's seriousness.
Plum Sykes paints a masterpiece with Party Girls Die in Pearls. Not being able to reveal too much without revealing the ending, it was no surprise that I read all 328 pages in one day. No surprise because I finished Bergdorf Blondes, her first book on a five hour flight to California and Debutante Divorcee while getting a pedicure.
For me the setting of Party Girls Die in Pearls brought to mind a cross between Harry Potter and memories of when I was in a sorority during college. Regardless everyone should read this book because anyone can relate to Party Girls Die in Pearls.
"Killed with her own Champagne saucer." (Sykes, 211)
Plum Sykes takes the drama that ensues with a group of friends and relationships when you add champagne to the mix. While reading the story, the reader is entertained by the characters because they are us. Still, Plum Sykes is a writer who knows entrance the reader by the plot and entertain with a murder mystery. Goodbye Carolyn Keene of Nancy Drew fame and Agatha Christie, there is a new modern day murder mystery writer for the 21st Century.
"Death, Ursula realized did not interrupt the humdrum business of life, or the eating of Kit Kats" Ursula (Sykes, 76)
In the end, when dealing with the harsh realities of life we know we have to continue through whatever obstacles and tragedies are presented to us. What better way to help continue with our life than with a good book, a murder mystery that provides us with a smile and laughter like the latest book Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes. ;D