Today I am guesting on the Crime Readers’ Association Blog. I talk about how readers sometimes read books through their own personal lens and how one reader objected to my portrayal of Josef Stalin in book 2 of the Poppy Denby Investigates series – when Stalin doesn’t even appear in the book! I do, however, present a cross-section of characters who are both pro and anti-Bolshevism in a period when people were still trying to work out what the new movement might mean. The Kill Fee is set against the Russian Revolution and the plight of the exiled Romanovs in London.Poppy meets an eclectic mix of them including a White Russian princess actress, the killer of Rasputin, and some secret agents from both sides of the conflict. Our intrepid sleuth has to find her way through it all to track down the thief of a priceless Faberge Egg and to stop a murderer from striking again. To read the whole article visit the CRA Blog here.
Archive for the ‘ Poppy Denby ’ Category
Looking for a great holiday read? Meet Poppy Denby. Journalist by day, flapper by night. Fiendishly clever 1920s jazz age mysteries, shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger Award. Book 3, The Death Beat, will be out in October, so make sure you’ve read the first two by then! Buy the books here.
Another great review of The Kill Fee in the highly respected Historical Novel Review (Issue 79), published by the Historical Novel Society. Relieved to have passed muster! (Glad to see they liked my original 1920 map – I spent months looking for just the right one).
It’s October 1920 in London, and young reporter Poppy Denby finds herself in the midst of murder, Bolshevik intrigue, stolen Faberge eggs, and aristocratic Russian princess actresses. Poppy is only slightly distracted by her beau, widowed Daniel Rokeby, who is more ready than Poppy to move their relationship along. It’s up to Poppy to get ahead of the detectives investigating the murders and thefts, not only to see justice done but also to get the scoop on competing newspapers.
This is a light, fast read, well-written and with plenty of twists and eccentric characters—including playwright George Bernard Shaw, Rasputin assassin Prince Felix Yusopov, and even the Tsar and Tsarina—for there are episodes in the book that skip back in time. (The Romanovs, the wealthiest family in the world at the time, had been murdered in 1918.)
Smith warns readers about how complex the political scene was between the Russian Whites (supporters of the old order, or at least enemies of communism) and all the Red factions. No need to worry; she does a fine job of telling her story without political confusion, mostly by staying clear of politics. The confusion comes from the glut of characters, but again, not to worry. Smith helpfully offers an index of fictional and historical characters. There’s also a fine map of 1920 London at the front of the book.
All in all, an entertaining romp with nonstop action, a perky heroine, and quirky characters.