The Jazz Files

Written by Fiona Veitch Smith
Review by Kristen McQuinn

The Jazz Files was a book that I offered to review because it sounded somewhat intriguing, and I felt like I ought to read something a little out of my normal reading zone. I expected it would be fine but beyond that, I didn’t expect to discover one of my favorite books of the year and a new favorite series!

The novel begins with a death, as all good mysteries do, then jumps ahead seven years to 1920. Our protagonist, Poppy Denby, is a sheltered young woman from a small English town who has recently arrived in London to live with her crippled aunt. Her aunt, who had been a suffragette, convinces Poppy to take a job other than as her nursemaid. She ends up eventually taking on the role as an investigative reporter for a rag newspaper trying to solve the seven-year-old death and the role the suffragette movement may have played in it. Throw in a dashing photographer, an ignoble nobleman, a loyal friend or two, and a crew of scrappy journalists, and you have a recipe for a crazy fun debut reminiscent of the very best of Agatha Christie, who was clearly a strong influence on Smith.

The Jazz Files is a novel full of vim, vigor, and music. The atmosphere is electric and vibrant throughout, the characters are all thoroughly delightful – except when they’re delightfully awful – and the plot is engaging from page one. I can’t wait to read the next installation in the series!