The Crystal Crypt by Fiona Veitch Smith

Newshound And Bloodhound

The Crystal Crypt by Fiona Veitch Smith is a marvellous historical amateur sleuthing novel. It is the sixth book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series but can be read as a stand-alone. For me, I enjoyed catching up with familiar faces as Poppy Denby once more finds herself investigating a murder.

The novel is set in 1925 when the role of women was decidedly below that of men. Women were seen as second-class citizens, good for making the tea and looking pretty. Within the book there are strong women who are breaking out of this role. The reader meets not only Poppy as a reporter but a WPC and some female academics at Oxford. All are breaking the traditional mold of women.

As well as the women, the reader witnesses the attitudes towards disability and men of colour which horrifies the modern reader. One of my favourite scenes was of Poppy Denby forcefully acquiring a hotel room for her male colleague Ike.

The novel is mainly set within the academia of Oxford. It is very much a closed world that discourages the outsider.

Fiona Veitch Smith has marvellous descriptions of Oxford enabling the reader to ‘walk’ through the action. I particularly loved the inclusion of Blackwells as I have been there on several occasions. It is a fascinating place. I recommend a trip.

Poppy Denby reminds me of a younger version of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Her amateur sleuthing is superb, like a dog with a bone, she tenaciously hangs on until the case is concluded. She is a very likable heroine.

I am thoroughly enjoying all the Poppy Denby books. I think they would translate marvellously into a Netflix series – any producers out there please take note. I am hoping there will be many more books to come.

I received a free copy from the publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.


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 ten years.
She lives with her husband, daughter and dog in Newcastle upon Tyne. On her non-writing days, she works part-time
as a freelance editor and writing tutor, as well as being the Assistant Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association.

Fiona Veitch Smith

The Crystal Crypt
Fiona Veitch Smith

“But accidents can still happen… Perhaps there was something
out of her control, something she couldn’t have foreseen…”
“Like someone plotting to kill her?”
Reporter sleuth Poppy Denby is asked to investigate the
mysterious death of an up-and-coming female scientist in an
Oxford laboratory known as the Crystal Crypt. The official
verdict is that Dr June Leighton died in a tragic accident, but
Dr Leighton’s lab assistant believes it was murder. However,
when Poppy discovers that the colleague has spent time in a
mental institution and has an unresolved murder in her own
past, Poppy wonders if she is being misled. But then, another
female academic is attacked, and Poppy herself becomes a target.
Praise for
Poppy Denby Investigates
‘What a delight to escape into the world of the irrepressible Poppy Denby!’
‘A wonderfully entertaining, vivid, yet thoughtful historical murder mystery’

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