Monday, January 16, 2017

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith

Smith has provided readers with a complex plot in this mystery. It is London in 1920. Events in Russia have forced some of that country's royalty to find refuge in London. Poppy Denby, reporting on arts and entertainment for The Daily Globe, gets involved when there is a murder at an exhibition of Russian art. A Faberge Egg is missing from the exhibition. Poppy and her friends are determined to unravel the mystery of the murder and the theft.

One reason I like this series of mysteries is because of the effort Smith takes to be accurate in historical detail. While she includes historical information at the end of the novel, she also includes some information about White and Red Russians at the novel's beginning. Much of the plot revolves around those two groups of Russians and their attempts to obtain the Faberge Egg and the information it contains.

The narrative is mainly the 1920 era but we do go back periodically to 1917 – 1918 Russia for events leading up to the 1920 action in London. In the process, we learn about the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and the treatment of the Tsar Nicholas and his family. We also learn about the Faberge Eggs and that some of them had secret compartments.

This is a complex novel with many characters. Smith provides a list of characters at the beginning of the book. That's a good idea as some characters are not who they seem. It's also important to know whether the Russian characters are White or Red.

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a complex plot involving a number of characters. I think the plot was more complex than I appreciate. At the end, I really didn't understand why some of the Russians behaved as they did. I did like the attention to period detail, the dialog, music, etc. And I do like Poppy as a character and will be looking for the next in the series.

You can find out more about Poppy Denby and the novels at You can read my review of the first in the series, The Jazz Files, here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Fiona Veitch Smith has worked as a journalist in South Africa and the UK and is now an Associate Lecturer in Journalism at Newcastle University.

Lion Hudson (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel), 336 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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