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It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books in gilded libraries—and, if she’s lucky, an invitation to a ball. But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her thr It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books in gilded libraries—and, if she’s lucky, an invitation to a ball. But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her throat cut, Ursula is catapulted into a murder investigation. Determined to bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell, Ursula enlists the help of trend-setting American exchange student Nancy Feingold to unravel the case. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloane Rangers, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent—and Ursula’s investigations mean that she may be next on the murderer’s list.


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It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books in gilded libraries—and, if she’s lucky, an invitation to a ball. But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her thr It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books in gilded libraries—and, if she’s lucky, an invitation to a ball. But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her throat cut, Ursula is catapulted into a murder investigation. Determined to bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell, Ursula enlists the help of trend-setting American exchange student Nancy Feingold to unravel the case. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloane Rangers, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent—and Ursula’s investigations mean that she may be next on the murderer’s list.

30 review for Party Girls Die in Pearls: An Oxford Girl Mystery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Clark

    What a great story! I LOVED it! I've never read anything like it and I can't wait till the next in the series comes out. It's set in the 80's (who didn't love something about the eighties?) It begins with Ursula Flowerbutton (quite the name, right?) moving to the big city to study at Oxford. Boy did she get more than she bargained for in her first semester? She's hit on by several boys, invited to several parties (with only 1 formal dress in her closet), found a dead body and I haven't even mentio What a great story! I LOVED it! I've never read anything like it and I can't wait till the next in the series comes out. It's set in the 80's (who didn't love something about the eighties?) It begins with Ursula Flowerbutton (quite the name, right?) moving to the big city to study at Oxford. Boy did she get more than she bargained for in her first semester? She's hit on by several boys, invited to several parties (with only 1 formal dress in her closet), found a dead body and I haven't even mentioned all her classes? What's a girl to do? Make awesome friends! She becomes besties with an American exchange student (with lots of money and an awesome closet of clothes!). They become the "Cagney and Lacy" of Oxford, they attend parties to locate suspects, they sneak into rooms that are off limits - all in the name of the investigation! Just when they think they have their suspect, another person looks guilty as sin! You will love this book for beginning (the cover is to die for!) to end!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Franklin

    two stars. This book was just ok. The English college theme has been done, and even for a cozy mystery didn't quite work. I thought the authors of the "Royal We" created a better story, and this could have been a better collab into their storyline. Party Girls die in Pearls had interesting pop culture and fashion descriptions located throughout, but overall, the storyline was disappointing. The depictions of the students’ day to day interactions did not seem believable or overly interesting. two stars. This book was just ok. The English college theme has been done, and even for a cozy mystery didn't quite work. I thought the authors of the "Royal We" created a better story, and this could have been a better collab into their storyline. Party Girls die in Pearls had interesting pop culture and fashion descriptions located throughout, but overall, the storyline was disappointing. The depictions of the students’ day to day interactions did not seem believable or overly interesting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    N.N. Light

    I didn't care for it. My Rating: 3 stars Reviewed by: Mrs. N I didn't care for it. My Rating: 3 stars Reviewed by: Mrs. N

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lyn-Mara

    I reeeeallly liked this book - footnotes and all! What’s not to like about the retro college life setting & the cozy-like vibe of this ‘Oxford Girl Mystery” novel? I’m forever longing for times that I haven’t lived through. Being someone that was particularly young in the 80s, I’ve always felt as if I’d missed out on the tacky glitz of how I’ve romanticized this time to be - the goth costume parties, the Lycra, the hair teasing - all the things MTV portrayed the world to be. I really feel that t I reeeeallly liked this book - footnotes and all! What’s not to like about the retro college life setting & the cozy-like vibe of this ‘Oxford Girl Mystery” novel? I’m forever longing for times that I haven’t lived through. Being someone that was particularly young in the 80s, I’ve always felt as if I’d missed out on the tacky glitz of how I’ve romanticized this time to be - the goth costume parties, the Lycra, the hair teasing - all the things MTV portrayed the world to be. I really feel that this book satisfies a bit of that nostalgia and succeeds in “taking” me there. The decision to add an American character to this British cast of characters was brilliant. Nancy, an American garden tool heiress, was so funny and the perfect mall-going, fashion obsessed counterpart to the more reserved and studious Ursula. Together these two work on figuring out the mystery of the dead girl found on their professor’s office couch. This mix of cultures also allowed for some serious English slang. I learned lots! I especially loved reading the descriptions of Nancy’s outfits for every occasion -party dresses, off the shoulder spandex and sequined hot pants for days!!! This whodunnit will keep you suspecting everyone of murder up to the end and wishing for flutes of fizzy cocktails and Marlboro reds. Loved it!!!!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    I’ve been lightly entertained before by Plum Sykes, and was hopeful that this novel might do the same. Unfortunately, much of the British ‘80s slang went over my head and the era that I recalled was far removed from the one portrayed here. Oxford University campus, ritzy debutantes, trust fund children in fatuous cliques, beyond bizarre clothing and a flippant regard for post secondary education frames a wandering murder mystery, which heads to English hills and dales, tutorials, shooting weeken I’ve been lightly entertained before by Plum Sykes, and was hopeful that this novel might do the same. Unfortunately, much of the British ‘80s slang went over my head and the era that I recalled was far removed from the one portrayed here. Oxford University campus, ritzy debutantes, trust fund children in fatuous cliques, beyond bizarre clothing and a flippant regard for post secondary education frames a wandering murder mystery, which heads to English hills and dales, tutorials, shooting weekends and clandestine love affairs. I didn’t find it amusing, just silly. Too bad. I kept thinking that Plum Sykes was trying to do an imitation of the formidably satirical Jill Cooper crossed with Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, and achieving neither. I guess more novels are in store for the sleuths of Sykes’ Oxford University duo. They won’t be on my highly anticipated list. Two stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. I liked that the story took place at Oxford but it was just okay and I can't recommend it highly. I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. I liked that the story took place at Oxford but it was just okay and I can't recommend it highly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    My family recently went on our summer vacation where I was thrilled to make a small dent in my ever growing TBR by reading nine books, all of which were fun reads (exciting in and of itself because I tend to be a picky reader). The two clear standouts were Party Girls Die in Pearls and Eden by Jeanne Blasberg, two very different but equally fabulous reads. In Party Girl Dies in Pearls, Plum Sykes crafts a clever tale filled with memorable and mostly likeable characters set at Oxford University i My family recently went on our summer vacation where I was thrilled to make a small dent in my ever growing TBR by reading nine books, all of which were fun reads (exciting in and of itself because I tend to be a picky reader). The two clear standouts were Party Girls Die in Pearls and Eden by Jeanne Blasberg, two very different but equally fabulous reads. In Party Girl Dies in Pearls, Plum Sykes crafts a clever tale filled with memorable and mostly likeable characters set at Oxford University in the mid-1980’s. Sykes’ sly, witty, and occasionally tongue-in-cheek method of telling Ursula’s adventure makes Party Girl Die in Pearls a highly entertaining tale that kept me laughing and marveling at Sykes’ incredible storytelling skills. The mystery was well-done and realistic, and the resolution of the crime was highly satisfying and thankfully not easy to puzzle out. The many twists and turns added both suspense and at times humor to her story. Having experienced the 80’s in my teens, I thoroughly enjoyed the many 80’s references including Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, tube tops and huge hairstyles. Sykes also employed footnotes to explain or comment on certain references; these footnotes added greatly to the ingeniousness of the book. I highly recommend Party Girls Die in Pearls and cannot wait for the next Oxford Girl Mystery.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Catie

    Recommendation via @jo_rodgers - 5/21/2017 This was such a fun, and breezy mystery. Really enjoyed the characters, setting and all the details put into this novel. I did figure out who the murderer was quite soon. But, overall a great read for in between other books. It reminds be quite a bit of P. G. Wodehouse and Nancy Mitford; absurd, yet entertaining in both wit and humor. I do hope there will be more adventures featuring the dynamic protagonist from the series.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    When you're hoping the protagonist and her best friend are going to be the next ones killed, you know it's time to give up on the mystery you're reading. And the footnotes... Lord have mercy. This isn't David Foster Wallace. Total miss for me When you're hoping the protagonist and her best friend are going to be the next ones killed, you know it's time to give up on the mystery you're reading. And the footnotes... Lord have mercy. This isn't David Foster Wallace. Total miss for me

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Good escape from reality, set in 1985 Oxford University, funny that the author helpfully explains the 80's pop-culture references in foot notes. The mean librarian stereotype was sad, many are still exactly the same kind of curmudgeon. I wonder what the Oxford librarians think of that representation? Three stars because it was just a sort of murder mystery, nothing that great. Reminiscent of American Psycho because of the elite atmosphere. One quote spoke to me, which was quoted in the novel: Mar Good escape from reality, set in 1985 Oxford University, funny that the author helpfully explains the 80's pop-culture references in foot notes. The mean librarian stereotype was sad, many are still exactly the same kind of curmudgeon. I wonder what the Oxford librarians think of that representation? Three stars because it was just a sort of murder mystery, nothing that great. Reminiscent of American Psycho because of the elite atmosphere. One quote spoke to me, which was quoted in the novel: Marcus Aurelius said, "if you're distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your own estimation of it, and this you have the power to revoke at any moment."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Annie ⚜️

    I saw the film Oxford Blues at a very impressionable age. Oxford and crew are indelibly linked in my mind. This book, set in 1980s Oxford, is full of references to the music, pop culture and fashion of that period and I AM HERE FOR IT! It made me nostalgic for a time and place of which I was never a part. I still hold out a secret hope that my son will grow up and row crew for Oxford one day....

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aritri Chatterjee

    The first thing that caught my fancy and made me immediately take interest in this book was the name of the protagonist, Ursula Flowerbutton. The story starts with a newspaper report written by our very own, younger version of Miss Marple and the mysterious murder of a fellow student makes us sit straight. Not to worry, the rest of the book is not half as serious as the first page. Full of hilarious pop culture and dapper house parties, Plum Sykes' first in a series of Oxford Mystery novels, mak The first thing that caught my fancy and made me immediately take interest in this book was the name of the protagonist, Ursula Flowerbutton. The story starts with a newspaper report written by our very own, younger version of Miss Marple and the mysterious murder of a fellow student makes us sit straight. Not to worry, the rest of the book is not half as serious as the first page. Full of hilarious pop culture and dapper house parties, Plum Sykes' first in a series of Oxford Mystery novels, makes for a great beach read. The characters have highly superficial lives and Sykes paints a brilliant caricature of the upper royalty class present in the 1980s London. Starting from the fashion to the food habits and sitcoms, everything is perfectly depicted. Other than the slightly disappointing build-up of the discovery of the mysterious murderer, the book is a really funny read. It makes you laugh, roll your eyes and keeps you occupied for a couple of hours. This is one of those books that you can finish off in one sitting with some wine and cake to accompany. To read the entire review visit www.theliquidsunset.com

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Party Girls Die in Pearls may be a mystery, but it's also a fun, frothy read set in 1980s Oxford. Ursula Flowerbottom is our student/amateur detective who is determined to follow the story of the murder of a popular fellow student- not only did she find the body, but she's got to write the article for the school paper, naturally. If you're a fan of British mysteries and a fan of 80s culture, Party Girls Die in Pearls is the perfect combination. The world Ursula finds herself in at Oxford is deli Party Girls Die in Pearls may be a mystery, but it's also a fun, frothy read set in 1980s Oxford. Ursula Flowerbottom is our student/amateur detective who is determined to follow the story of the murder of a popular fellow student- not only did she find the body, but she's got to write the article for the school paper, naturally. If you're a fan of British mysteries and a fan of 80s culture, Party Girls Die in Pearls is the perfect combination. The world Ursula finds herself in at Oxford is delightfully full of parties and scandal. This looks to be the first in a series, and as it really only covers Ursula's first week at school, the author has left herself with plenty of room to have Ursula cover more stories, and I'll be looking forward to reading them. *Copy provided by the publisher via Goodreads giveaways for an honest opinion- thanks!*

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    A really lovely, well-paced, perfectly-set mystery novel. The characters all felt real (even though they were charmingly ridiculous), the setting was well-researched and felt very vivid. The sign of a good mystery is when all the clues to solve it are available and, even though there's an end-of-the-book twist, you once it was solved, it wasn't with a clue that no one could see coming. It was a good introduction to the characters, and the footnotes– a tool used mostly by pretentious writers like A really lovely, well-paced, perfectly-set mystery novel. The characters all felt real (even though they were charmingly ridiculous), the setting was well-researched and felt very vivid. The sign of a good mystery is when all the clues to solve it are available and, even though there's an end-of-the-book twist, you once it was solved, it wasn't with a clue that no one could see coming. It was a good introduction to the characters, and the footnotes– a tool used mostly by pretentious writers like DFW with their heads so far up their own asses they can't see– were hilarious and offered needed context for someone born in the year the book takes place. I'm really looking forward to more.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Xanna

    First of all, I really enjoyed this book. Really, I did! However, I enjoyed in the way that one enjoys a "guilty pleasure" soap opera, which is why I gave it two stars out of five - simply because three stars wouldn't feel fair to the other authors I've given three stars to. Maybe I only enjoyed it so much because it was exactly the book I was looking for at the moment I found it: a glamorous, funny, lighthearted story set in Oxford, revolving around a murder mystery. Ursula Flowerbutton (yes, r First of all, I really enjoyed this book. Really, I did! However, I enjoyed in the way that one enjoys a "guilty pleasure" soap opera, which is why I gave it two stars out of five - simply because three stars wouldn't feel fair to the other authors I've given three stars to. Maybe I only enjoyed it so much because it was exactly the book I was looking for at the moment I found it: a glamorous, funny, lighthearted story set in Oxford, revolving around a murder mystery. Ursula Flowerbutton (yes, really, that's her name) finds a fellow student dead in the chambers of a don on her first week at university. Her name is not the only conveniently romantic thing about Ursula. She is raised by her two grannies since her parents died (a tragic backstory which serves absolutely no purpose) on a farm that sounds too pictoresque to be true. Despite her plain clothing and upbringing, EVERY single boy in Oxford seems to be smitten with her, which also struck me as quite strange. In terms of murder solving Ursula is absolutely no Morse, but I have to say that I found the story of the murder mystery nicely executed. It kept me guessing right up until the end and did not leave me feeling disappointed - as mysteries often do when the build up is too big. But the murder is only one of two big themes in the book; the other being the glamorous life of Oxford students in the eighties. This theme is at once a strength of the book, for anyone who feels like reading a murder mystery without all the gloominess. However, the other side of this is that the amount of words dedicated to describing everyone's outfits is STAGGERING. Every single person who walks into a scene is described from head to toe, often with words and terms that I didn't even know, leaving me with still no clue WHAT they were wearing exactly. Then, the footnotes. Personally, I'm a fan of properly used footnotes, so they had me excited at the start. Unfortunately, Sykes only uses them to describe obscure terms from both the eighties and Oxford. The Oxford ones came across as a little snobbish at times, especially when you know Sykes studied at Oxford herself. And personally I draw a line at a footnote explaining who Cynthia Lauper is (first of all, yeah, we know) and what's worse, describing her as "was to Madonna what Megan Trainor is to Taylor Swift". WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??? I mentioned that there is less gloominess here than in most murder mysteries, and I should add that maybe there perhaps is too little gloominess. I have never seen more awkward and horribly written descriptions of people crying than in this book. Prepare for a lot of "uuuuurrrrhghghglll.... im... sohooooorrryyyyy" blubbering. The setup for next books, especially in terms of romance, couldn't really be any more obvious, but does work in making you just a little bit curious about what happens next. Overall I enjoyed it both because it was a cute read about one of my favourite places, and because it was often so hilariously terrible. Definitely a recommendation to bring with you on vacation.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Renita D'Silva

    Just wonderful!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Goddard

    I like cosy murder mysteries that make fun of high society

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Sepehri

    Cute. But what happened to Claire Potter??? Loved the clothing descriptions. Clever footnotes.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Mahon

    I've been eagerly awaiting this book ever since I read the announcement in Publisher's Marketplace and I was not disappointed. Plum Sykes knows how to write a cracking good mystery and the 80's setting is perfection. I spent a great deal of time in England during the 1980's and this book brought back all kinds of memories, from the terrible fashions to the fantastic music. Anyone who owned a copy of the Sloane Ranger Handbook (I still own a copy) will want to read this book. It’s 1985, and at Ox I've been eagerly awaiting this book ever since I read the announcement in Publisher's Marketplace and I was not disappointed. Plum Sykes knows how to write a cracking good mystery and the 80's setting is perfection. I spent a great deal of time in England during the 1980's and this book brought back all kinds of memories, from the terrible fashions to the fantastic music. Anyone who owned a copy of the Sloane Ranger Handbook (I still own a copy) will want to read this book. It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton (what a fantastic name for a character) arrives at Oxford and immediately feels out of her depth amongst her glamorous classmates. All she wants to do is join the college newspaper and make her mark. But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her throat cut, Ursula is catapulted into a murder investigation. What I loved about this book, apart from the setting, was the character of Ursula. She starts out a bit of a wallflower, unsure of herself, but once she discovers the murder, she grows as a character. I particularly liked her relationship with Nancy, an American who is studying abroad at Oxford for a year. Together, these two make an unbeatable team. If Agatha Christie had lived through the 80's, this is the book she might have written. I sincerely hope that this is the start of a new series. I long to see what new misadventures Ursula and Nancy get into. I may actually need to read this book again.

  20. 5 out of 5

    celi ♡

    So fun! I’m so proud of myself for guessing the mystery before our main character, because I’m usually pretty bad at solving the mysteries lol. I also really loved the Oxford setting. The descriptions were so well done, it was so easy to envision myself there. Our main character, Ursula Flowerbutton, was really enjoyable and her friend, Nancy, was so quirky and funny. I loved them trying to solve the mystery together. My only minor problem was the author’s habit of over describing everything the So fun! I’m so proud of myself for guessing the mystery before our main character, because I’m usually pretty bad at solving the mysteries lol. I also really loved the Oxford setting. The descriptions were so well done, it was so easy to envision myself there. Our main character, Ursula Flowerbutton, was really enjoyable and her friend, Nancy, was so quirky and funny. I loved them trying to solve the mystery together. My only minor problem was the author’s habit of over describing everything the characters were wearing. There were lots of parties and therefore lots of dresses and suits being described. I’m not someone who is super into fashion so some of the fashion terms being used just flew over my head and made it hard to visualize unless I stopped and looked up whatever the word meant. (Which I had to do quite often, but got annoying after awhile.) 4.5/5 stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is what I would call a fun, cozy mystery. It is set in the 1980's in Oxford, England on the campus of Christminster College. The characters are engaging. The two main characters are sensible English girl Ursula and American fashionista Nancy. They get caught up trying to solve the truth behind a murder that happens on campus. There are hilarious mentions of the 80's fashions and good descriptions of the campus life in Oxford. This is what I would call a fun, cozy mystery. It is set in the 1980's in Oxford, England on the campus of Christminster College. The characters are engaging. The two main characters are sensible English girl Ursula and American fashionista Nancy. They get caught up trying to solve the truth behind a murder that happens on campus. There are hilarious mentions of the 80's fashions and good descriptions of the campus life in Oxford.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    I found this to be very difficult to get into and enjoy. Although I liked that it was set at Oxford and had an interesting set of characters the story felt a bit juvenile. It was basically British Gossip Girl meets Nancy Drew. The names were all ridiculous and the characters felt very caricature-like. The footnotes were overkill and the plot was predictable. It was obvious that the author experienced life at Oxford in the 80s and this book was a way for her to relive that chapter. The description I found this to be very difficult to get into and enjoy. Although I liked that it was set at Oxford and had an interesting set of characters the story felt a bit juvenile. It was basically British Gossip Girl meets Nancy Drew. The names were all ridiculous and the characters felt very caricature-like. The footnotes were overkill and the plot was predictable. It was obvious that the author experienced life at Oxford in the 80s and this book was a way for her to relive that chapter. The descriptions of clothes and people's experiences was extensive and weighed down the action. Overall my review is summed up in one word: meh.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie Fenske

    Party Girls Die in Pearls caters to pretty much all of my guilty pleasure book tastes - set in academia (hello, Oxford), centered around posh kids in high class cliques, murder mystery, etc. Our plucky protagonist Ursula teams up with American abroad student Nancy to solve the case, but only so she can secure a spot at the school’s famed student newspaper. With a cast of humorous characters and extremely detailed 80’s charm, I couldn’t help but enjoy this. It’s no The Secret History, but sometim Party Girls Die in Pearls caters to pretty much all of my guilty pleasure book tastes - set in academia (hello, Oxford), centered around posh kids in high class cliques, murder mystery, etc. Our plucky protagonist Ursula teams up with American abroad student Nancy to solve the case, but only so she can secure a spot at the school’s famed student newspaper. With a cast of humorous characters and extremely detailed 80’s charm, I couldn’t help but enjoy this. It’s no The Secret History, but sometimes all you need is something light and juicy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This was cute. I really like Plum Sykes, and this book was an enjoyable read, but ... I also didn't care what happened? The whole time, I just kept thinking, "Oxford students just have one meeting a week with a professor? That's it?" The mystery itself was a little convoluted, and I don't think it makes much sense to a kill a character nobody actually likes. But there's good setup for the next in the series. I just wish it didn't have to be a mystery. This was cute. I really like Plum Sykes, and this book was an enjoyable read, but ... I also didn't care what happened? The whole time, I just kept thinking, "Oxford students just have one meeting a week with a professor? That's it?" The mystery itself was a little convoluted, and I don't think it makes much sense to a kill a character nobody actually likes. But there's good setup for the next in the series. I just wish it didn't have to be a mystery.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christine (Tina)

    Fun, fluffy crime fiction which made me nostalgic at least from the time period & protagonist situation - 1985, college freshman year. The footnotes make me giggle, as it is hard to believe that the young adult readers most likely to gobble this up have no recollection of the recent history provided in them. Very cute, fun read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    This was a fun little cozy mystery, with interesting characters, tons of tongue-in-cheek humor, and a dash of 80s nostalgia. The plot was just convoluted enough that I didn't guess the outcome but not so complicated that it was hard to follow. I appreciate that Sykes didn't pull out any last minute cheats to fool the reader. I'm looking forward to the next installment. This was a fun little cozy mystery, with interesting characters, tons of tongue-in-cheek humor, and a dash of 80s nostalgia. The plot was just convoluted enough that I didn't guess the outcome but not so complicated that it was hard to follow. I appreciate that Sykes didn't pull out any last minute cheats to fool the reader. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melinda Elizabeth

    If Ursula changed her clothes one more time I was going to lose the plot with this book. I rated it low because of the constant ball gown changes and descriptive paragraphs about 80's fashion, and the fact that I pegged the culprit when first introduced to the character. So between page 20 (ish) and the end of the book it was really filler for me. If Ursula changed her clothes one more time I was going to lose the plot with this book. I rated it low because of the constant ball gown changes and descriptive paragraphs about 80's fashion, and the fact that I pegged the culprit when first introduced to the character. So between page 20 (ish) and the end of the book it was really filler for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary Bird

    I quite enjoyed this book! It's fun and kind of ridiculous but in a way that engages you and makes you enthusiastic to keep reading. The characters are strange and funny, and overall I liked the development of the tale. I want to read more by Plum Sykes! I quite enjoyed this book! It's fun and kind of ridiculous but in a way that engages you and makes you enthusiastic to keep reading. The characters are strange and funny, and overall I liked the development of the tale. I want to read more by Plum Sykes!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beckiezra

    3.5? I didn’t hate it but I’d never have kept reading if it wasn’t for book club. I had to just decide to stop being put off by the blasé attitudes about solving a murder (she was more worried about not being able to publish a college newspaper story than the fact that she’d found a dead person). I don’t like being confused by books, and diving into the 1980s Oxford setting left me a little lost, but is that really the author’s fault? She did include footnotes on some things, I could’ve used abo 3.5? I didn’t hate it but I’d never have kept reading if it wasn’t for book club. I had to just decide to stop being put off by the blasé attitudes about solving a murder (she was more worried about not being able to publish a college newspaper story than the fact that she’d found a dead person). I don’t like being confused by books, and diving into the 1980s Oxford setting left me a little lost, but is that really the author’s fault? She did include footnotes on some things, I could’ve used about twice as many for the Oxford stuff more than the American ‘80s TV stuff. I’m interested if that’s what Oxford is actually like, a brief “tutorial” with one professor once a week and a single essay to write? Do they not have to study any subjects beyond their major? I don’t know if that sounds wonderful or terrible. I didn’t figure out the mystery early on, I’m not sure it was possible to, though once the existence of an illegitimate heir was revealed things became a bit predictable. I don’t know if the poor police work was realistic or not, it was a different time and a different country. Cozy mysteries tend to have incompetent police, otherwise how could the meddling unqualified woman solve the mystery first every time? I appreciated that Ursula had a decent reason for her nosiness since she was trying to become a reporter, that’s more believable than the random granny or soccer mom that often stars in cozies. I wouldn’t mind reading more of this series, but I’m not really hooked on any characters enough to feel like I’ll actually seek out more books if they’re published. Ursula was a weird character, pretty enough to catch everyone’s attention, but she apparently didn’t know it before, poor and never included with the cool crowd before as a scholarship student at boarding school, but very aware of the latest trends and suddenly super popular her first week at Oxford, innocent or a typical 80s ditz. None of her was really that appealing, but it wasn’t appalling either. I couldn’t quite tell if everyone was making fun of Nancy the American or if she really was cool. I’d be interested in understanding Oxford better more than the characters. It was all very Harry Potter, which is to say Harry Potter seems much less impressive when everything you thought was unique and wizardy was actually totally normal British school stuff with a thin veneer of magic on top.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    I wish I could know how readers rank this, according to the age of the reviewer. If this had not been required reading, I would not have gotten past page 2. The cultural references were on a scale from tedious to obnoxious. The mystery was all right. The protagonist turned out to be fairly admirable. Oxford University should probably sue for slander.

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