Title: The Cairo Brief (Poppy Denby Investigates Book 4)
I did have a little chuckle when the butler appeared as one of the suspects. Whenever I read a detective novel, my husband will ask me if ‘the butler did it’? Usually authors will shy away from this cliche and, for some reason, it tickled me that this could be how the book turns out (I won’t actually reveal if it does or not!). In fact, mystery writer and art critic, SS Van Dine once published a series of rules for would-be crime authors and rule 11 states that “A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit…. It is a too easy solution”. However, they do say that rules are there to be broken…
The writing style fits well with the story. The author writes with quite a descriptive turn, evoking vivid imagery of the historical backdrop, of fashion, cars and society in the English jazz age, yet she cleverly does so without any long overly-wordy passages which get in the way of the story.
I particularly loved the historical facts peppering the book. Whilst the story is fictional, it is fascinating to read/see how the plot intersects with real historical events and characters. I was previously unaware that Lady Jean Conan Doyle ran seances. I’m sure this would have been a great parlour trick in those days, when people had less scientific knowledge and were generally less cynical. I found it interesting to read about how a seance could have been faked/manipulated a century ago without modern methods.
Whilst The Cairo Brief could be read as a standalone novel, I would recommend starting the series at the beginning. It is a charming series and reading in order provides some helpful information about the main characters’ backgrounds. In addition, there is an underlying subplot which runs through the series, relating to Poppy’s relationship with photographer, Daniel. Having read the earlier books in the series will enable the reader to make more sense of this aspect of the tale. However, whilst there is a small element of romance within The Cairo Brief, it is minimal and does not interfere with the overall plot.
Thank you to Rhoda Hardie, Lion Fiction and Fiona Veitch Smith for inviting me to joint the blog tour for The Cairo Brief. This was the perfect book to curl up with on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon. I have enjoyed the Poppy Denby series and The Cairo Brief is no exception. It is a charming historical murder mystery and a wonderfully entertaining read, one which I thoroughly enjoyed even if I didn’t work out ‘whodunit’ until it became obvious at the very end!
Fiona was born in Corbridge, Northumberland, but spent her teenage years and her 20s in South Africa. she returned to England in 2002 and lives with her husband, daughter and dog in Newcastle upon Tyne. She works full-time as an author, but occasionally lectures part-time in journalism at Newcastle University and formerly in creative writing and scriptwriting at Northumbria University.
When she’s not writing she enjoys eating cheesecake, playing jazz clarinet and practising Pilates (not to be confused with the Pilates of her historical novel!) – but rarely at the same time. She also spends many hours walking her dog Ricky, which she finds gives her invaluable ‘plotting time’, as well as gardening.
Fiona is a member of the British Society of Authors, the Crime Writers’ Association, the Historical Writers’ Association and Association of Christian Writers.