The Death Beat & 1920s US Immigration Policy

I’ll be giving a talk at Newcastle Central Library at 6pm on Thursday 18 January on the background to The Death Beat. The book is set against the 1921 US Immigration Restriction Act, which has some disturbing parallels with today. Come along for a warm welcome and interesting discussion. The event is free, but please register your interest here. Signed books will be available to purchase.

Ellis Island

The Death Beat launch party – no Prohibition here!

Last week I held a 1920s-themed launch party for the release of the third book in my Poppy Denby Investigates series, The Death Beat. Intrepid reporter sleuth Poppy and her friends would have felt right at home at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Newcastle, with live jazz and wine freely flowing. Although snow threatened to scupper the launch – with the band getting stuck somewhere en route – the party got off to a delayed but warm start. Former ITV journalist Mychaela Stephenson interviewed me about the latest book set in New York and then the guests were treated to a reading set in a speakeasy, where Poppy and her friends flout Prohibition. Thanks to everyone who braved the weather and helped make it such a fun evening.

Me channeling Lady Cora Crawley. And yes, that is an original 1922 Remington typewriter. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
No this isn’t a cast call for Peaky Blinders. Friends Ben and Diana really looked the part.
Fun, fun, fun! Jack & Alex playing some fab 20s Jazz and friends Becca (left) and Helen (right) breaking Prohibition.
My beautiful family: husband Rod and daughter Megan. Doesn’t she look flapulous?
Mychaela Stephenson interviewing me about The Death Beat
Bookshops make the world go round. Thanks to Mariana from Blackwell’s Newcastle for hosting the launch.

Travelling 1920s style

I’ve just updated the Poppy Denby website with information on, and fabulous original photos of, the various trains, boats and automobiles Poppy and her friends use in London, Paris and New York. For readers who have already read the books, you can now see if your imagination matches up to reality. For those who haven’t, don’t worry, there are no plot spoilers as to whodunnit. Although book 3 is not quite out yet, I have included information on that too as a little taster (you can pre-order The Death Beat here). To go straight to the Transport page click here.

Model T Ford

First woman statue in Parliament Square

Next year, 2018, will be the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave women in the United Kingdom, over the age of 30, who owned property, the right to vote. It took another 10 years for all women over the age of 21, regardless of their economic status, to be able to vote; but at least the 1918 act was a start. It was the culmination of many years of struggle of brave women (and some notable men), one of whom was Millicent Fawcett. Millicent was the chairperson of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. She adhered to a strict code of non-violence (in contrast to the Pankhursts and the Women’s Suffrage and Political Union who feature in The Jazz Files). She retired in 1919 after achieving her goal and died in 1929. She is now going to be honoured by a statue in Parliament Square, London. Incredibly, it will be the first statue of a woman to be erected there; a reminder, perhaps, that the battle for the recognition of women as equal contributors to society still has a way to go. Nonetheless, Aunt Dot and her friends would be delighted to hear that Millicent is finally getting some attention. I hope to be in London next year for the unveiling.

Millicent Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett 2

Publishers’ Weekly reviews The Kill Fee

Smith (The Jazz Files) returns to formidable and spunky Poppy Denby, arts and entertainment editor for the Daily Globe, in this inspirational whodunit set in post-WWI London. As Poppy goes from covering a Russian art exhibit to looking for a murderer and a missing Fabergé egg, she takes on charming and possibly nefarious Andrei Nogovski of the Russian embassy. With help from Rollo Rolandson, her boss; fellow reporter Ike Garfield; aunt and suffragette Dot Denby; and best friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy follows leads and discovers that people aren’t always what they seem. Interspersed with Poppy’s story are flashbacks that center on a young Russian aristocrat and the nanny who saves her from the fate of the rest of her family. The audience follows them as they cross the Russian landscape and wait to see how their story intersects with Poppy’s mystery. The complicated plot, involving a myriad of both White and Red Russians, is offset by the list of characters at the beginning, reminding readers of numerous important names and their allegiances. Smith weaves together a diverse cast, including both male and female characters in positions of power, and depicting a variety of ethnicities and abilities without resorting to stereotypes. Embark with upstanding, uplifting Poppy and her friends on a mystery involving jewel thieves, Russian royalty, murders, sword fights, car chases, and secret tunnel. Full review here.

Poppy Denby investigates