The Art Fiasco (Poppy Denby Investigates)

Written by Fiona Veitch Smith
Review by Sally Zigmond

In 1924 Poppy Denby, star reporter of London’s Daily Globe, travels to Northumberland to celebrate her father’s 60th birthday. She stops off to spend time in Newcastle with her aunt, Dot. Also staying there is Agnes Robson, a famous artist who is another Northumberland girl. She is here because the Laing Gallery is staging an exhibition of her paintings. Circumstances force Poppy to deputise for the artist’s press secretary, who is indisposed. While up north, she hears of a local scandal about the death in the mining village of Ashington, 27 years earlier, of an art teacher who taught Agnes, herself a miner’s daughter. But was theirs more than a teacher-pupil relationship and was his death more than a tragic accident? Then when Agnes herself is murdered in the middle of the opening night of her exhibition, Poppy starts to investigate. She is both helped and hindered by the police inspector in charge of the case with whom she finds herself reluctantly falling in love.

This is the first of the Poppy Denby’s 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 Polly’s seriousness. Highly recommended for cosy-crime lovers.