Crime Fiction Lover Erin Brittan’s top 5 whodunnits of 2021 – The Crystal Crypt
“The latest instalment in the Poppy Denby Investigates series is another cracking piece of historical crime fiction by Fiona Veitch Smith. The author’s enthusiasm for the 1920s really shines through and her in-depth knowledge of the period ensures that the settings and dialogue ring true, even if the cast of main characters is rather more eclectic than would have been the case on newspapers at the time. Despite the froth and frivolity commonly shown to characterise the period, the 1920s was not exactly the decade of inclusion, even if things were slowly beginning to change in some regards. With that in mind, its no surprise that the characters in The Crystal Crypt encounter misogyny, racism and distressing comments concerning mental and physical differences during the course of Poppy’s investigation. Such scenes, coupled with the disturbing descriptions of the crimes, move this novel away from cosy crime fiction. Poppy herself is on fine form when it comes to sleuthing…”
Read the rest of the review here
Love Reading Book of the Month – The Crystal Crypt
The Crystal Crypt was Love Reading’s Book of the Month for November 2021. And here is their full review, by arch Poppy fan, Liz Robinson!
This wonderfully evocative and vivacious 1920’s murder mystery features a female sleuth and reporter investigating a suspicious death.
Whoopee, isn’t this just the bee’s knees of a murder mystery! I’ll stop with the 1920’s slang now, but seriously, this really does rather beautifully conjure up the years after World War One. Sleuth and reporter Poppy investigates the death of a female scientist in Oxford.
I have just adored every one of the Poppy Denby Investigates series which began with the Crime Writers’ Association Endeavour Historical Dagger Award shortlisted The Jazz Files, a wonderful historical mystery that I described as: “supplying oodles of 1920’s fizz and fun alongside a firm foundation from the suffragette movement and scars of the First World War”. These books could be classed as cosy as well as historical crime, but I’d say the cosy comes with a good twist of provocative nudges and digs.
The Crystal Crypt is the sixth to feature Poppy, is it the last? Potentially, as a few of the loose ends from the series are rather nicely tied up. Poppy really does know her onions (sorry, sorry, definitely no more 1920’s sayings from me), she’s likeable, bright, and forward-thinking. The surrounding characters are fabulous too, though a favourite of mine has to be the wonderfully witty Rollo Rolandson.
Fiona Veitch Smith encourages the plot to sing, while allowing the reader to investigate not only the crime, but also the social and political issues of the time. The Crystal Crypt is a wonderfully entertaining, vivid, yet thoughtful historical murder mystery that I can most definitely recommend.
Mystery People’s review of The Art Fiasco
The Art Fiasco is the fifth book featuring Poppy Denby. It is a fascinating book with excellent, authentic period detail, and a subtle, multi-layered plot, which has its roots in events that happened twenty-seven years previously. The characterisation is superb, and Poppy is a delightful heroine who firmly believes that women have a right to live their own lives and have a career, despite the prejudice against this. One of the most engaging features of the book is Poppy’s relationship with her mother, a good and kind woman, but a strict Methodist who believes that a woman’s place is in the home. The Art Fiasco is a very enjoyable read, which I recommend.
The Historical Novel Society review of The Art Fiasco
This is the first of the Poppy Denby adventures I have read. It will not be my last. Poppy is a delightful, modern girl who believes that women have a right to a career rather than domestic drudgery. Her best friend, Delilah, is a celebrated West End actress who adds all the fashion details and whose fun makes a perfect foil to Poppy’s seriousness. Highly recommended for cosy-crime lovers.
The Art Fiasco Blog Tour
Trip Fiction video review of The Art Fiasco
Here’s a lovely video review (vlog) of The Art Fiasco by Trip Fiction. Enjoy it with your sound turned up!
LoveReading loves The Art Fiasco, October 2020
I’m always delighted to receive reviews from Love Reading UK who have been so supportive of the Poppy Denby series from the beginning. I’m delighted to say they loved reading The Art Fiasco!
A wonderfully atmospheric and engaging murder mystery set in the 1920’s, featuring a charismatic amateur sleuth […] Fiona Veitch Smith does a wonderful job of balancing cosy and charming with murder and mayhem […] The Art Fiasco really is a gloriously readable slice of historical crime fiction.
The Art Fiasco was LoveReading’s E-book of the month and Editor’s Pick for October 2020.
Read the full LoveReading review here.
Writing Magazine feature, March 2020
My lovely (sadly now former )editor, Jessica Gladwell, and I are were featured in Writing Magazine talking to Dolores Gordon-Smith about my journey to publication and the Poppy Denby novels.
Mystery Monday with Miss Jane
The lovely Miss Jane featured the first two books in the series in her Mystery Monday video review. Lovely to hear that Poppy has another fan.
Promoting Crime Fiction’s review of The Cairo Brief
“Atmosphere is as important as the slick plot and engaging story in this novel and it added hugely to my enjoyment. The misty gardens at Winterton Hall, the British Museum and surrounding streets in snow, all underpinned by that first spooky scene in the newly discovered tomb provoke delicious chills and put the reader very firmly in Poppy’s un-sensible shoes. A delight from start to a rewarding finish.”
– Dea Parkin, Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association.
“Poppy Denby is on top form solving the mystery surrounding the ancient Egyptian mask of Queen Nefertiti. Highly recommended!”
Dolores Gordon-Smith, author of the Jack Haldean murder mysteries, about The Cairo Brief.
“Intrepid Poppy Denby visits a country estate not unlike Downton Abbey in this caper. It’s great fun following Fiona’s crew of early 20th-century reporters as they seek scoops and solve murders on the side.” Deb Richardson-Moore, author of The Cantaloupe Thief, The Cover Story and Death of a Jester, about The Cairo Brief.
“Thoroughly enjoyable mystery. Murders, sinister figures, a cursed Egyptian mask – and a seance! All the ingredients for another superlative Poppy Denby investigation.” A. J. Wright, award-winning author of the Lancashire Detective series, about The Cairo Brief.
“Fiona Veitch Smith, where have you been all my life? Poppy Denby is delightful, the plot rocks, and the 1920s era is perfectly evoked. British mystery fans, you want to read this. You really, really do.” Cassandra Chan, author of the Bethancourt and Gibbons mysteries, about The Cairo Brief.
Publishers’ Weekly review of 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.
“What a delight to escape into the world of the irrepressible Poppy Denby in this cleverly-plotted debut.”
Ruth Downie, author of the Medicus series of Roman mysteries, a New York Times best-seller, about The Jazz Files.
“Manhattan, beware! Formidable reporter Poppy Denby enjoys a luxury voyage across the Atlantic. Her indefatigable and entertaining search for truth reveals the seediness and glamour of 1920s New York.”
Frances Brody, author of the Kate Shackleton mysteries, about The Death Beat
“A delightful period romp, neatly sprinkled with the choicest historical detail.”
D.J. Taylor, author of Bright Young People, and Man Booker Prize nominee for The Windsor Faction, about The Jazz Files.
“Fiona Veitch Smith has chosen a fascinating period as the background for her plot. The story opens with plenty of exciting action and the characters are lively and believable.”
Ann Granger, author of the Campbell & Carter series, about The Kill Fee
“An intriguing mystery, fizzing with energy.”
C.F. Dunn, author of Mortal Fire, gold winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Award (romantic suspense), about The Jazz Files.
The CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger judges’ verdict of The Jazz Files
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.
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. Liz Robinson, LoveReading.co.uk Click here for full review.
The Jazz Files was a featured book of the month in January 2016 on Love Reading UK. Here are a selection of reader reviews. For the full reviews visit Love Reading UK.
- Edel Waugh – ‘I adored it! I hope there will be many more books featuring Poppy and the fabulous Dot!’
- Cath Sell – ‘It is 1920 and Poppy Denby is our intrepid investigator in London, fresh from the North. She lives with her suffragette Aunt and decides to become a journalist…..and so the fun begins.’
- Olivia D’Silva – ‘A good old-fashioned mystery thriller!’
- Sarah Musk – ‘An exciting Suffragette murder mystery set after the First World War. Poppy Denby is a tenacious heroine who becomes involved in reporting on a sinister family plot to silence one of their own.’
- Ruth Paterson – ‘The Jazz Files is an interesting and at some points thrilling mystery. It is the first in a series, Poppy Denby Investigates. I found it hard to put down and can’t wait to read more.’
- Phylippa Smithson – ‘Feared this would be a ‘fluffy’ lightweight but found it remarkably engaging most notably for capturing many of the social changes of the 1920s.’
- Linde Merrick – ‘What a delightful introduction to a new female detective Fiona has given us in this first mystery of the Poppy Denby series.’
- Nicola Underwood – ‘Brilliant read. Well written, entertaining and addictive.’
- Siobhan McDowell – ‘The heroine of this novel is Poppy Denby and she is a delightful addition to the Sleuthing Set!!’
- Jocelyn Garvey – ‘A great read, really enjoyable. The book moves along at a pace and is difficult to put down.’
Northern Insight review
“An absorbing, well-written mystery. Smith expertly captures the essence of the era through illustrious description and knowing historical detail.”
See page 72 of Northern Insight, October 2015
Bepop Spoken Here (specialist jazz blog) review
A really good read, a romping page turner, but with an unmistakable dark side.
And here is a brief account of the editor’s visit to one of my talks. ‘Flappers, fops and murder: writing crime fiction in the jazz age’.
An interview with blogger Claire Musters on the writing of The Jazz Files:
Having been captivated by Fiona’s latest novel, The Jazz Files, I was delighted when she agreed to an interview. It’s a fascinating account, full of honesty and advice for writers and aspiring writers alike. So please do read this and tomorrow’s installment for a behind-the-scenes look at how Fiona’s new crime series has been birthed and crafted – and what life as a writer is like for her. To read the rest of the interview visit Claire Muster’s blog.