The Art Fiasco by Fiona Veitch Smith

Thank you to Fern Lindsey-Tolley at Lion Hudson Limited for inviting me to join the blog tour for The Art Fiasco. I loved the sound of the synopsis, which I’ve listed below.


It’s 1924 and Poppy Denby is heading up to Northumberland to celebrate her father’s sixtieth birthday. She stops off in Newcastle en route to visit her Aunt Dot, who has temporarily relocated from London to renovate a house she’s inherited. One of Aunt Dot’s guests is the world-renowned artist, Agnes Robson, who is staging an exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery. Reluctantly, Poppy is roped in to help when the artist’s press liaison man falls ill.

She soon discovers that the local press has dug up some dirt on Agnes relating to the tragic death of a young art teacher in Ashington Colliery, twenty-seven years earlier. As she tries to suppress the story, Poppy begins to suspect that the teacher might have been murdered and that the killer may still be on the loose…

‘Poppy Denby’s latest investigation combines an intriguing cold case mystery with a murder puzzle set in Newcastle in 1924. Complete with map and cast of characters, this is great fun for fans of mysteries set during detection’s Golden Age.’ Martin Edwards, CWA Diamond Dagger winner and author of The Golden Age of Murder.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Fiona Veitch Smith, so I haven’t read any of the previous Poppy Denby Investigates books but that wasn’t a problem to understanding the story. However I would now like to go back to read the earlier books.

Poppy Denby is a reporter and amateur detective. On a short break to visit family, she finds herself involved in helping solve the murder of Agnes, who was preyed on by an art teacher when young.

I cannot comment on the accuracy of the historical features of the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Poppy, Delilah and Yasmin are strong female characters in an era when many women still didn’t have the right to vote.

I enjoyed this murder mystery story, as there were a number of people in the frame for murder for a variety of reasons. We also have a mystery about the history of a couple of paintings, a suspected blackmail, a sixtieth birthday, romance and the opening of a play. If you enjoy murder mysteries and/or historical fiction then I recommend trying this book – this was one of those books I didn’t want to put down and stayed up late into the night to read.

About the author

Fiona Veitch Smith is the author of the Poppy Denby Investigates novels, Golden Age-style murder mysteries set in the 1920s, about a reporter sleuth who works for a London tabloid. The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger, while subsequent books have been shortlisted for the Foreword Review Mystery Novel of the Year and the People’s Book Prize. She is formerly a journalist, having worked on the arts and crime beats of a Cape Town newspaper, and lectured in journalism in the UK for over a decade. She is currently the Deputy Editor of the CWA’s Red Herrings Magazine.

The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, sees Poppy arriving in London from her home in Northumberland to look after her paraplegic Aunt Dot. Aunt Dot is an infamous suffragette who was crippled in clashes with the police outside the Houses of Parliament in 1910. She encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globewhich is owned by American expat, Rollo Rolandson, a hard-drinking but highly astute newspaperman who has dwarfism. On Poppy’s first day on the job a senior reporter dies under suspicious circumstances and she takes over the story he was investigating before his demise. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier and the powerful people who are now trying to hide the truth


By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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