Welcome to Poppy Denby!

Poppy Denby Investigates is a mystery series set in the 1920s about an investigative journalist called Poppy Denby (no surprises there). It is published by Lion Fiction. The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, sees Poppy arriving in London from her home in Northumberland to look after her paraplegic Aunt Dot. Aunt Dot is an infamous suffragette who was crippled in clashes with the police outside the Houses of Parliament in 1910.

poppy typewriterShe encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe which is owned by American expat, Rollo Rolandson, a hard-drinking but highly astute newspaperman who has dwarfism. On Poppy’s first day on the job a senior reporter dies under suspicious circumstances and she takes over the story he was investigating before his demise. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier and the powerful people who are now trying to hide the truth.

DelilahBut with Poppy it is never all work and no play. Her friend Delilah Marconi – a flapper and jazz club dancer – introduces Poppy to the giddy world of the Roaring Twenties with its jazz clubs, flapper fashion and romance. If you love mysteries and 1920s culture, you will love Poppy Denby.

On this website you will find background information on the world of Poppy Denby. Much of this informed the writing of author Fiona Veitch Smith. You can listen to the music Poppy listened to, check out the fashion of the period, or, if you want to dig a little deeper, find out more about the history of the women’s suffrage movement. If you haven’t yet read any of the Poppy Denby books yet, don’t worry – there aren’t any spoilers.

”It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven … you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove useful to a story we’re working on now.”

Book 1 The Jazz Files introduces reporter sleuth Poppy Denby on her very first case. She investigates the death of a fellow reporter only to unearth a cold case involving the murder of one suffragette and the false imprisonment of another one in an asylum. The Jazz Files was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger in 2016.

Book 2 The Kill Fee, sees Poppy investigating the theft of a Faberge Egg and the assassination of a White Russian Princess in a West End Theatre. The Kill Fee was shortlisted for the Foreword Review Mystery Novel of the Year in 2017

Book 3 The Death Beat, sees Poppy and Rollo heading to New York for three months and discovering it’s murder in Manhattan.

Book 4 The Cairo Brief sees Poppy investigating a series of mysterious deaths surrounding the auction of the Death Mask of Nefertiti. The Cairo Brief was longlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2019.

Book 5 The Art Fiasco sees Poppy investigating the death of a world-famous artist while on holiday in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Art Fiasco was a Love Reading Book of the Month in 2020.

Book 6 The Crystal Crypt takes Poppy to Oxford in 1925 where she investigates the mysterious death of an female scientist in a basement laboratory. The Crystal Crypt was a Love Reading Book of the Month in 2021 and Erin Britten Crime Fiction Lover’s top 5 mysteries of 2021.

The Poppy Denby books are also available in large print and audio, published by WF Howes.

61 thoughts on “Welcome to Poppy Denby!”

    1. Thank you Mandy! What a kind thing to say. I’m very glad you enjoyed it and hope book 2 won’t disappoint.

    2. Hi Mandy, I was interested to read your comment comparing this to “Agatha Christie at her best” but to me it is FAR better than that. AC’s characters were two-dimensional but Poppy and her relatives and associates are rounded and fascinating characters. Enjoyed the book hugely and can’t wait to read more of her adventures…

      1. Thank you Lesley :) I too struggle with AC’s characterisation – and even though Poppy is a fan of her books, I’m not. But I think (hope) Mandy was referring to the mystery element and plotting. So I do take it as a compliment.

  1. I have only just started reading the Jazz Files, but already I’m riveted. I will be looking out for the sequels with great anticipation!

  2. Poppy lives! A new, adorable and unforgettable literary character is born. Can’t wait to read the next one, and the next, and the next..

    1. Oh I’m delighted you enjoyed it Gill! Will let you know when book 2 is coming out as soon as I have a date …

    2. Fiona,
      Thank you for creating a wonderful character and writing her a really great mystery. Almost finished the book and I’ll be very sorry to leave her world.

      1. Thank you Sally. I’m delighted you enjoyed spending time with Poppy. Her next adventure starts on 16 September!

  3. I can’t wait to start reading about Poppy’s adventures! Just this year I’ve joined a romantic suspense group in Romance Writers of America and I’ve been wanting to read more mystery and suspense. Poppy is just what I need to study the mystery/suspense genre.
    Congratulations, Fiona!

    1. Hello Tambra! I do hope you have fun with Poppy. Life in the romance department is a little complicated for the girl. Tricky to juggle love affairs with solving crime – but she gives it a good go :) Enjoy!

  4. Once I started to read The Jazz Files I couldn’t stop. All work has been put on hold and I’ve just finished it. What a fantastic read – much better character development than many authors in this chenre, and I read a lot!Can’t wait for the next one. Thank you for a thrilling story with good background, believable characters and a great story.

    1. How kind of you to stop by Jane. I loved writing this book so I am delighted that you enjoyed reading it. The next one will be out on 16 September.

  5. I was thoroughly drawn into the world of the Jazz Files with Poppy Denby and characters. I didn’t want the book to end and can’t wait until your new book comes out.

    1. That’s lovely to hear, Christine. Thank you for letting me know. The new book, The Kill Fee, is coming out on 16 September and I hope you enjoy it as much as the first one.

  6. Friends and I very much enjoyed your talk today at Newcastle City Library and look forward to reading the books.

    1. Thank you for coming, Pat! I enjoyed it very much. A lovely, engaged audience. Sorry for the sniffles – seems like it wasn’t only Donald Trump who had problems :)

  7. Fiona,

    I just wanted to say congratulations on being nominated for the Historical Dagger. What an honor! I finished “The Jazz Files” this week because it was advertised in the back of my Lion Fiction book, “The Cantaloupe Thief.” I thoroughly enjoyed your mystery and hope there will be more cross-referencing on our back pages.
    Enjoy your wonderful success!

    1. Hello Deb,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. The Cantaloupe Thief is a wonderful book – and don’t you just love the cover? Thanks for the well wishes re the Dagger. It is indeed a real honour – and it’s been huge fun going to all the events. I shall pass on your comments about cross referencing to Lion – yes I think it’s a fabulous idea! Book 2 in the series, The Kill Fee, is coming out in the States later this month. I hope you enjoy it as much as the first. Will we be seeing any more of your series?


    1. Hi Judy. Book 3, The Death Beat, will be out in the autumn – October in the UK and November in the USA. Sorry you have to wait so long!

  8. I absolutely love The Jazz Files. I found it by googling historical mysteries and it popped up! It was just one of the best stories snd I like that I learned all sorts of fun facts from it! I have already purchased The Kill Fee and pre-ordered book 3. Please keep them coming!

    1. Hello Leslie! Oh what fun! I’m so glad you found the books and have enjoyed them. Book 3 is already out so I hope it gets delivered to you soon.


  9. Just finished The Kill Fee – thank you – I really enjoyed it. I always appreciate the time spent by the author to state historical facts and liberties. One thing jumped off the page – Sir Walter Lane of Guisborough- what was the inspiration behind his name?

    1. Hello Cath. Thanks for getting in touch. I’m very glad you enjoyed The Kill Fee. Have you read The Jazz Files too? Regarding the names in my books, sometimes they have a story attached to them – something that inspired me – and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, particularly with the lesser characters, they are just names that pop into my head. Sir Walter was one of those. His is a doubly fictional name. He is obviously made up by me, but also by Adam. And he is only mentioned once in the book. I wonder why that name jumped out at you? So as I was writing I thought that Adam has to make up a name for his imaginary father. It would be Sir someone or other. And although I never consciously thought about it, I suppose Sir Walter is common in literature – Sir Walter Scott, Sir Walter Raleigh. Lane of course because that’s Adam’s surname (again, he was just a walk-on character in The Jazz Files and that was the first name that popped into my head)and Guisborough I don’t know why. It’s a town near Redcar on Teeside so perhaps I had recently seen a sign for it, or it might have been mentioned on our regional news (I live in Newcastle) and hence was in my sub-conscious. My dad’s cousin lived near Guisborough but I haven’t been there since my great-aunt’s funeral over ten years ago, so I doubt it was that. Once the name came to mind I would have done a quick internet search to see that there was no real Sir Walter Lane of Guisborough, and as there wasn’t, it would have been as good a name as any.Sorry there’s nothing more exciting to it than that :)

  10. Thoroughly enjoyed both books cant wait for the next installment of the Poppy story

  11. Hi Fiona, I discovered the Poppy Denbee books by chance recently. I couldn’t put The Jazz Files or The Kill Fee down, and my mother and mother in law (who have borrowed my copies) say the same. I am now devouring The Death Beat. Hope to see more of your wonderful writing.

  12. I am really enjoying your books — I am just finishing Kill Fee — as you do a great job with the characters and the plots work well, but every so often I get a little “jolt” because of the historical inaccuracies. It is probably because I am old enough to remember things like the “invention” of Ms as a salutation in the 1970s, so I know that it would not have been used in 1920. And gunshot residue wasn’t discovered until 1971. It’s been a while since I read the Jazz Files, but there were similar things in that one. At the same time, it is obvious that you have put effort into getting the setting right, and mostly you succeed. The thoughts Poppy has about her options as a woman considering marriage are right on, for instance. You should consider getting someone to check for the little things for you, and then your books would be great.

    1. Dear Jeanne,

      Thank you for stopping by and I am glad you are enjoying the Poppy books. A team of 3 editors check my books – for big things and little things. When faults or inaccuracies are spotted they are flagged up and corrected. But some things are still missed. And I’m afraid will probably continue to be so. That is the nature of the business. We do our utmost to give readers the best experience possible, but sometimes we (and most particularly I) will fall short of the mark. Thank you for the information about the gunshot residue. I shall file that away for future reference. Regarding Ms, Rollo’s use of the word ‘Miz’ is not referring to that. It is indicative of his accent. It was a decision we made as an editorial team in The Jazz Files to set his dialogue apart without resorting to a complete phonetic rendition of everything he says. I see how this has caused confusion and I apologise for that. I hope you enjoy the rest of the Poppy books, despite the occasional unintentional error which unfortunately will inevitably occur.

  13. Speechless, I haven’t even finished it yet, as well as I’m not into reading as much, but this one pulled me into it like no other book. Looking forward to finish all the rest and I hope it’s continuity.
    Thank you for the adventure

    1. Hi Rhonda,

      I just finished writing book 5 today! It will be on the shelves next autumn. Sorry to keep you waiting, but Poppy has been having a very complicated time of things lately :) Each book takes me a year to write and then there is about nine months on top of that for the publisher to do their thing with it. Hope when you read it, it will be worth the wait.


      1. Wonderful!
        I love exploring the history of fashion so I love reading about what she and her pals are wearing. Thanks for sharing that.

  14. Dear Fiona

    I discovered the Jazz Files by accident, such serendipity! Poppy is so very real. I discovered the Jazz Files as a quartet when might they grow to a quintet?

    1. Hello Tony! So pleased to hear Poppy has a new fan. Book 5 in the series, The Art Fiasco, will be coming on in October. It is set in Newcastle. And then I’m busy writing number six which will hopefully come out in 2021…
      Happy reading!

      1. Hi Fiona, thank you for replying, much appreciated, I look forward to reading the new books.

        Best regards Tony

  15. Hi Fiona

    Thank you for the signed copy that you sent via Cornerstone Skipton. I finished the book.
    Are you doing some more Poppy Denby as well as follow ons from The peace garden.

    1. Hi Fran, I’m glad the book got to you and I hope you enjoyed it. I am not planning on writing a sequel to The Peace Garden (although I did have an idea for one a few years ago!). The next Poppy Denby, The Art Fiasco, will be out in October. And I am currently working on book 6 in the series, which will hopefully come out in 2021. If you are looking for something else by me, then you could try Pilate’s Daughter, published by Lume Books (previously Endeavour Press). Unfortunately though this is only available on Amazon and you can’t order through a ‘proper’ bookshop. It is a historical romance, set in 1st Century Palestine, between the daughter of Pontius Pilate and a Jewish zealot, set against the backdrop of Jesus’ final months. http://mytitles.net/fiona-veitch-smith-pilates-daughter-pb?uid=2745

      Happy reading!


  16. Hi Fiona,
    I just finished the 2nd (audio)book. I’d like to compliment you on the research in the historical background. I’m a GenX Russian, and we were the last generation to study history properly. I noted a few minor inaccuracies, but overall, you’ve done a great job.
    And, kudos to the narrator in the audiobook – she pronounced the names of the Russian aristocrats and Russian cities rather well.
    Many thanks for not killing the dog and bringing him to London!!
    The narrator mispronounced the name of Fritzie’s breed, but many Britts and Americans do that, so I would not hold it against her lol.
    Thank you for the entertaining books.
    PS. I hope Poppy will dump Danny boy before he ruins her career and takes her freedom away.

    1. Hi Elena, thanks for getting in touch! And very glad that my research passes muster :) I shall pass on your congratulations to Helen, the narrator, too. Rather her than me pronouncing all those names! As for Fritzie, I couldn’t NOT have him survive. I simply couldn’t live with myself if he hadn’t. As for Poppy and Daniel… well, you’ll have to read the rest of the series 😉

      All the best,


  17. Love, love, love the Poppy Denby books! I am currently on “The Art Fiasco” . The period of the great war and the 1920s is one of my favorites to read about.

    1. Hi Margaret. That is lovely to hear! Enjoy The Art Fiasco. There won’t be long for you to wait for the next one which comes out in November. Poppy will be visiting Oxford.

      All the best,

  18. Well February has been a dreadful month objectively, work beyond grim, annual leave cancelled due to lack of staff and the weather has reflected the awful events in the world. Despite that Poppy Denby has been a bright spot, something to look forward to every night after work and has made the month bearable. ‘The Crystal Crypt’ (finally) arrived and I decided to reread the whole series and what a joy it has been to be transported back to different times and cheer Poppy on as she relentlessly pursues the truth. Fantastic cast of characters- they feel like friends. Thank you so much Fiona.

    1. Oh Kath, I’m so glad Poppy and I brought you a little joy. Thank you for all you have and are doing. I pray for strength for you as you battle on. And much love from Poppy too.

  19. Most unlikely that a WW1 soldier’s body would be repatriated to Enlgand. Even the nobility accepted that all soldiers who died would be treated the same. Even now bodies discovered in Flandres Fields are buried locally.

    1. Hi Stephen, thanks for getting in touch. I assume here you are talking about The Art Fiasco scene at the graveyard in Morpeth. Yes your are correct. However, it would have been impossible for Poppy and her mother to have the conversation they did – which was crucial to resolve their differences that had been building for five books and centred very much around the loss of Christopher – in Flanders. I could have had a grave without a body, but I decided that Poppy’s mother would be more at peace and willing to engage with her daughter if the body was there. These are fictional books and I occasionally change minor historical details for the purpose of the story – when the needs of the story are more important (which they definitely are here). And sometimes I simply make a mistake :) I hope you enjoy the rest of the books. Kind regards, Fiona.

  20. I have only read The Jazz Files so far (I only got it on Tuesday), but I really enjoyed it and I’ve ordered the second book. It was an exciting and fast-paced mystery and I loved the way the book captured the feel of the 1920s but also had a forward-thinking attitude to such subjects as mental health, homosexuality and working women. I also didn’t mind in the least reading about a Poppy who was intelligent, brave and resourceful, with none of the fluffy silliness that is so often given to characters with that name (not that I am denying being fluffy and silly). I also liked the fact Poppy was allowed to have these qualities whilst still having an emotional and vulnerable side. It’s always great to read a detective novel where I can feel for the detective as well as enjoying the mystery. And if there is someone gorgeous like Daniel for me to fall in love with, even better!

    1. Hello Poppy! How delightful to hear from Poppy’s namesake! Yes I deliberately played on the idea that people would assume Poppy was fluffy and silly but she is far from it. Thank you for your kind words and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series (ps, yes Daniel is rather gorgeous, so enjoy him 😉 ). Fiona x

  21. I’ve read all six of the “Poppy Denby” series and would just like to know whether there might be a seventh book? Hope so!

    1. Dear Marie. Unfortunately, there won’t be any more Poppy books for a while. I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m disappointed too as I’m already missing Poppy! But it was a decision made by the publisher. However, I am working on a new series with a new publisher. An announcement will be made later this month, so I can’t say any more about it now! But I hope you might try out my new series down the line.

      Thank you for supporting my Poppy books. And for taking the time to comment here.

      Happy reading,

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