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Books Editorial

Artfiasco.jpg The Art Fiasco

A new mystery thriller set in the 1920s links the murder of a famous artist to a number of locations in Newcastle and Northumberland.

The fifth book of the popular Poppy Denby Investigates series, “The Art Fiasco,” sees the investigative journalist and amateur detective returning home to Newcastle for a holiday from her London job only to stumble upon a murder in the city’s Laing Art Gallery.

Corbridge born author Fiona Veitch Smith is no stranger to crime writing. In 1980 she left her home in Northumberland to emigrate with her family to South Africa. The daughter of a fitter and turner, she found herself in South Africa at the height of apartheid and was appalled at the social injustice and inequalities she witnessed every day.

She became politically active as a teenager and as a student joined in anti -apartheid demonstrations protesting for justice and equality. At university she studied drama, history and journalism and then worked on a Cape Town newspaper, covering both the arts and crime beats, which would eventually feed into the creation of the character of Poppy Denby.

At the age of 32 she moved back to Newcastle with her South African husband, and worked as a freelance editor and magazine journalist, before taking up a role lecturing in creative writing and journalism. She now puts all of her writing skills and experience of crime into the Poppy Denby novels.

“Poppy is set in the 1920s as I love that period. It was a great era for romance, opulence, fantastic jazz music and beautiful fashion. Like myself, Poppy is a journalist and shares some of my feelings on social injustice and equality too. I’ve aligned her with the suffragette movement as a lot of my inspiration for her came from Emily Wilding Davison. I used to lay flowers on her grave in Morpeth and thank her for all that she did for women like me,” said Fiona.

Indeed, Morpeth is featured in the book as it’s Poppy’s home town and nearby Ashington’s coal mining heritage and history is used to good effect, with one of the murders in the book taking place there. The main location however is Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery which is the scene for the central murder of a world-famous artist. 

The Art Fiasco is available from October 23 with an audio book being released on 1 December.