Today is a very exciting day for me, it’s the launch of the Poppy Denby audio books! Hurrah! If you are looking for something to wile away a long journey on holiday or lounging by a pool, then why not download one now? (They are also available in audio and MP3 cds). Narrated by the fabulous Helen Keeley and published by Lamplight Audiobooks,
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.
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.
This week I am back at my desk after a whirlwind week in London where I went to attend a gala awards dinner, hosted by the Crime Writers’ Association. The Jazz Files did not win the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger award. It was pipped at the post by the very worthy Stasi Child by David Young. But what a fantastic night we had! A gang from my publishers’ Lion Hudson were there to cheer Poppy along and my husband, Rodney, came down from Newcastle with me.
There is lots of celebration here in Poppydenbyland as Poppy’s latest adventure, The Kill Fee, is published today in the UK. Friends of Poppy in the USA will sadly have to wait until November – or order today from the UK site!
In this adventure Poppy is hot on the trail of a jewel thief and gets caught up in a murderous plot to kill off White Russian aristocrats. Dark secrets from the Russian Revolution surface in the jazz clubs and theatres of London 1920. Can Poppy track down the culprit before more more people die?
The Kill Fee is the second book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series. Book 1, The Jazz Files, has been nominated as one of the best historical crime novels published in the UK in 2015/16 and is up for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger Award.
‘An atmospheric, lively romp through 1920 in this wonderfully blended mix of crime fiction and historical fact […]The Kill Fee, full of the dastardly and dazzling, just roars along; it is a thoroughly captivating and entertaining read.’
If you’ve enjoyed getting to know Poppy Denby and her friends in The Jazz Files, you’ll be delighted to know that book 2, The Kill Fee, will be published on 16 September. There will be a launch party at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Percy Street, Newcastle, on Thursday 22 September, 6 – 7.30pm. If you are in the Newcastle area you are welcome to come to this free event. There’ll be free drinks and nibbles, live jazz and a reading from Poppy’s next adventure. For details of how to get to Blackwell’s,check out their website here
This year I shall not be wearing a feather boa as I do not want a repeat of the allergic reaction I had last year, the day before the Jazz Files launch, immortalised below by my cartoonist friend Chris Chris Bambrough.
I am delighted to hear that The Jazz Files is on the short list for this year’s Crime Writers’ Association Endeavour Historical Dagger award. The Daggers are sort of the Baftas of British crime writing. The winner will be announced at a swanky dinner in London on 11 October. In the meantime Poppy Denby and I are toasting each other with pink champagne and wondering what to wear!
This is what the judging panel said about the book: “This first entry in a new series featuring a female journalist in 1920s London is, like its heroine, buoyant and stylish but with a core of steel. Poppy Denby arrives in London from the north of England determined to make it as a journalist and gets her chance when she has to finish a murdered reporter’s investigation into the death of a suffragette. The Roaring Twenties are beautifully evoked.” – the CWA judging panel http://thecwa.co.uk/the-jazz-files/
If you haven’t already read The Jazz Files, why not remedy that now? The sequel, The Kill Fee, will be coming out on 16 September. You can click on the book covers on the right hand side of this page to buy them. Cheers!
If you loved reading about Poppy and her friends in The Jazz Files you will be delighted to know that book 2 in the series, The Kill Fee, is now available for pre-order. The book will be published in September (UK) and November (USA).
“Do you know who that is, Poppy?” asked Delilah
“I do indeed,” she answered.
“So what does it feel like to be in the arms of an assassin?”
Poppy Denby’s star is on the rise. Now the Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, she covers a glamorous exhibition of Russian Art at the Crystal Palace. During the exhibition a shot rings out, leaving an injured guard and an empty pedestal in the place of the largest Fabergé Egg in the collection. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets contained within – secrets that could destroy the royal families of Europe.
Suspects are aplenty and Poppy, her editor Rollo, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. When they are offered a ‘kill fee’ to drop the story, they know they are onto something explosive. But soon the investigation takes a dark turn when someone connected to the exhibition is murdered and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect. The race is on to find the egg before the killer strikes again…
“What have we got for below the fold?” Asked Rollo.
A voice piped up: “Wimbledon. That Frenchy won again. The one with the short skirt. And Daniel’s got a luv-er-ly pic.”
On cue Daniel walked to the front of the room and presented a picture of Suzanne Lenglen to Rollo who in turn showed it to the room. It was met by wolf whistles. No one bothered apologizing to Poppy.
From The Jazz Files.
Our heroine’s first day at work on The Daily Globe was on 4 July 1920, the day after the Wimbledon Finals. The men’s singles were won by Bill Tilden who defeated Australian Gerald Patterson (2–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4), and was the first American to ever win the title. Tilden also became the first player to reach 10 finals at a single Grand Slam event. His record stood until 2015, when Roger Federer reached his tenth Wimbledon final. Tilden’s personal life, however, was mired in tragedy and his closet homosexuality (illegal at the time) led to scandal and turmoil, including rumoured liaisons with ball boys.
The women’s singles were won, again, by ‘the Frenchy in the short skirt’ Suzanne Lenglen, considered by many the greatest French sports woman of all time. Lenglen won every year between 1919 and 1925, apart from 1924 when she had to withdraw in the quarter finals with whooping cough. She was a fashion icon and paved the way for women to wear shorter, looser fitting clothing on court, causing a scandal at the time. She was also renowned for smoking cheroots and drinking brandy between sets. Despite this dubious diet, she won an incredible 241 titles, with a 98% winning record over her entire career. She partied as hard as she played, and, in The Jazz Files, she makes a cameo appearance at Oscars Jazz Club the same evening Charlie Chaplin arrives. She died of leukemia on 4 July 1938, after going blind. She was only 39.
Poppy and I are over the moon to hear that The Jazz Files has been longlisted for the CWA Endeavour Historical Crime book of the year. It’s one of 10 nominees. Totally unexpected. We’re humbled and delighted.