Book Review: The Kill Fee (Poppy Denby Investigates – Book Two) by Fiona Veitch Smith

Publisher:  Lion Hudson

Publication date:  16th September 2016

the-kill-fee-my-review

the-kill-fee-poppy-denby-2The role of Arts and Entertainment Editor for The Globe allows the perky can-do attitude of Poppy Denby to follow some interesting journalistic opportunities, and The Kill Fee is no exception.

Poppy’s appointment gives her exclusive backstage access to mingle with the cast in the spotlight to report the celebrity gossip of the era for her column. Being generally expected to cover theatre reviews or the mere sniff of the remotely ‘sensational’ it’s not every day you would wade into the complexities of Russian politics circulating around displaced Royalty and fellow countrymen – trouble just seems to find Poppy, but occasionally she goes looking for it!

I was over the moon to see most of the regular cast making a return from The Jazz Files (Book One) to offer their support. Given her new reporting career Poppy’s socialite friend, Delilah, is a handy person to know and her feisty Aunt Dot who is famed for her involvement in the Suffragette movement is also a very well-connected lady indeed. And Rollo, the newspaper’s Editor remains small in stature but appears mightier this time round, with his many Americanisms and straight talking that has Poppy’s cheeks flushing frequently! Not to mention her part time romantic involvement with someone who’s often as stubborn as she is.

Added to this existing cast are multiple other characters and locations, all with a vital part to play. Their introductions take place over a period before a precious Fabergé Egg vanishes from an Art Exhibition being covered by the media and I now understand why a character profile section and lovely map awaited me even before the story began, as it could be difficult to keep track of the intricate branches of the Russian family trees if you’re not paying attention at times!

And of course Poppy must chase down the story to its bitter and frighteningly dangerous end, revealing the recent theft is just the tip of an ominous iceberg that deception, murder, theft, and kidnapping are clinging to. As the investigation darkens, a ‘Kill Fee’ raises its ugly head hoping to be tantalising enough to ‘kill’ the story before it is published. And still her church ministering parents haven’t the foggiest idea what she does for a living (not the full extent of it anyway)! Shame on you Miss Denby, but thank goodness your motives are honourable rather than questionable.

Cultural refinement sees a revival once more as historical intricacies of the 1920s are drawn into the story with nods to etiquette, society, food, and attire. All I can say is kudos to the author for the mammoth research and plotting that has taken place to create a epic and lively mystery set in an era of elegance and intrigue.

There are some instances that naturally refer to events in Book One, but they breezily go with the flow of things without making a huge song and dance about it. And while you may not miss out on anything ‘crucial’ by not reading The Jazz Files first, you would be treated to a fuller character background or just the pure delight of reading it if you did.

Rating:  4/5

And here’s my 5 star review of The Jazz Files.

(I received a copy of this title from the publisher and Rhoda Hardie with my thanks, and this is my unbiased review of it.)

the-kill-fee-book-summary

Poppy Denby, Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian Art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov Royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Fabergé Egg in the collection is stolen. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers. Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Fabergé Egg, a Russian Princess called Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg – and the other treasures – should all be restored to the Russian people.

Poppy, her editor Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But, soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect…

The race is on to find both the key and the egg – can they be found before the killer strikes again?

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the-kill-fee-author-profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Formerly a journalist, Fiona Veitch Smith has written books, theatre plays and screenplays. She is best known though for her novels and children’s picturebooks. ‘The Jazz Files’ is the first novel in her mystery series, Poppy Denby Investigates, and is set in 1920s London. It has been shortlisted for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger Award, 2016. Book 2, The Kill Fee, sees Poppy continue to investigate murders and mysteries in the Jazz Age. Published by Lion Fiction.

Her ‘Young David Picturebook’ series (illustrated by Amy Barnes Warmington) is based on the Biblical character of King David when he was a young boy, and her Young Joseph Picturebook series (illustrated by Andy Catling) is about the life of Joseph of the technicoloured coat fame. Published by SPCK.

Her standalone novel, ‘The Peace Garden’, is a romantic thriller set in England and South Africa, published by Crafty Publishing.

She lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Newcastle upon Tyne where she lectures in media and scriptwriting at the local universities. She has a passion for cheesecake, Pilates and playing the clarinet – preferably not at the same time!

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE   |   POPPY DENBY WEBSITE

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The Jazz Files (Poppy Denby Investigates – Book 1)

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Book Review: The Jazz Files (Poppy Denby Investigates – Book One, by Fiona Veitch Smith

Publisher: Lion Fiction  |   Publication date:  17th September 2015   |   Review edition: Paperback

The Jazz Files My Review

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith - Cover onlyThe Jazz Files encapsulates the highs and lows of an era shortly after the First World War.

With the author’s discretion, certain historical facts have been remoulded to fit this story, where we follow the young and ambitious Poppy Denby as she pursues a career in journalism.

Poppy was invited to London to work as a companion to her aunt, an actress and feisty member of the suffragette movement. Her aunt encourages her niece to fight for the employment she desires, after all, it’s what she and her friends campaigned for, and some of them did not survive. But no amount of support and encouragement will prepare her for the danger she is about to face, where blackmail, unsavoury characters, and evil shadow from the past all thrive.

Starting as an office assistant Poppy will meet all manner of larger than life characters, each having their own piece of unique history attached. For starters, there’s her boss, who is an ‘all American editor’ called ‘Rollo’ Rolandson. He gives the bright young gal a chance, when a missing editorial slot needs filling urgently. Having a friend in the arts is a Godsend, as she can get the interview she needs to set her on the right track. Little did she know that journalism could lead to such deadly pursuits! There are such delightful ones too, as a dashing newspaper photographer has a twinkle in his eye for young Poppy. Their relationship inside and outside the paper’s offices is played out wonderfully.

Soon, chases, betrayal and a cloak and dagger rescue are all on the cards. Poppy chips away at information she gains during her employment hoping to discover the truth about her aunt Dot’s accident, which left her confined to a wheelchair. And what really caused the death of her aunt’s friend? Then, there’s the fate of a poor woman held in an asylum hanging in the balance! Who is responsible for causing such grief and how can they be stopped? This is difficult to discern, as most of the people Poppy meets have secrets they are not revealing.

The original members from the suffragette movement and their nieces / daughters work together as a formidable team to solve the puzzle that has haunted the older generation. It’s a nice touch to bring all the threads together and form a unified bond ‘in the now’ – but someone is always one step ahead of the investigation…

With the embittered memories for the loss of their old friends and exposing those responsible, this is an incredibly engaging story. Told in a rhythmic, breezy style, our marvellous mystery solving gal perseveres, despite the many obstacles both her gender and difficult circumstances present in the age of The Jazz Files.

It’s safe to say I adored this book and would happily recommend it to those who like being transported to a different time, where an adventurous journalistic crime mystery will keep you on your toes – the 1920’s have never felt more alive!

Rating: 5/5

(My sincerest thanks to the publisher and Rhoda Hardie for providing a gorgeous paperback of this title for review.)

The Jazz Files Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

“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.”

Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…

Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?

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The Jazz Files Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Formerly a journalist, Fiona Veitch Smith has written books, theatre plays and screenplays. She is best known though for her novels and children’s picturebooks. Her ‘Young David Picturebook’ series (illustrated by Amy Barnes Warmington) are based on the Biblical character of King David when he was a young boy. ‘The Jazz Files’ is the first novel in her mystery series, Poppy Denby Investigates, and is set in the 1920s. Her standalone novel, ‘The Peace Garden’, is a romantic thriller set in England and South Africa. She lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Newcastle upon Tyne where she lectures in media and scriptwriting at the local universities. She has a passion for cheesecake, Pilates and playing the clarinet – preferably not at the same time!

Connect with the author:

TWITTER   |   FACEBOOK   |   WEBSITE   |   POPPY DENBY WEBSITE