Book Review

The Jazz Files

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Introducing Poppy Denby, a young journalist in London during the Roaring Twenties, investigating crime in the highest social circles

It is 1920. Twenty-two year old Poppy Denby moves from Northumberland to live with her paraplegic aunt in London. Aunt Dot, a suffragette who was injured in battles with the police in 1910, is a feisty and well-connected lady.

Poppy has always dreamed of being a journalist, and quickly lands a position as an editorial assistant at the Daily Globe. Then one of the paper’s hacks, Bert Isaacs, dies suddenly and messily. Poppy and photographer Daniel Rokeby (with whom Poppy has an immediate and mutual attraction) begin to wonder if Bert was pushed. His story was going to be the morning lead, but he hasn’t finished writing it. Poppy finds his notes and completes the story, which is a sensation.

The Globe’s editor, realising her valuable suffragette contacts, invites her to dig deeper. Poppy starts sifting through the dead man’s files and unearths a major mystery which takes her to France–and abruptly into danger.

**I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**

 

3 Stars

 

Sometimes, it is just hard to start a book. That was the case with The Jazz Files. Maybe it was me, but when I picked it up, it took awhile for the story to take hold. I really wanted to like the book because the synopsis made it sound wonderful. Eventually, I did become a bit more intrigued with the mystery offered, but overall, I wasn’t impressed.

One of the first issues I had with the book was all of the characters, with the exception of Poppy felt more like caricatures. There was something about everyone that we came across that seemed to be exagerrated. Aunt Dot’s size, Grace’s willowy figure, Rollo’s shortness… These descriptors felt as identifiable as the character’s name. I was also a bit disappointed at the shallowness of the elements of faith in the book. There are definite mentions, and Poppy herself identifies as Christian, but so often, she recognizes that doing something is wrong and that she’ll deal with the guilt later. Even then, you never see any action. On top of that, there are instances of language and while not graphic, references to affairs and romantic flings going on.

Despite all those things though, I did find that The Jazz Files is a book that has a well thought out mystery at it’s core and does a great job of sprinkling in a few things that bring some history to life. Particularly in reference to the early suffrage movement in England and the Jazz Age.

But, at the end of the book, I can’t escape my disappointment and for that reason, I’m leaving this one at 3 stars and it’s not one that I feel that I can highly reccommend.

About the Author:

Formerly a journalist, Fiona Veitch Smith is a writer of books, theatre plays and screenplays.

Her children’s picturebooks, the Young David series, are now published by SPCK Publishing. Her adult mystery series set in the 1920s, Poppy Denby Investigates, is published by Lion Fiction. The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, is available from September 2015.

She is a member of the British Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers. Fiona is also the editor of the popular writing advice website The Crafty Writer and her courses attract students from around the world.

She lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Newcastle upon Tyne where she lectures in media and scriptwriting at the local universities.

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