The Expectant Detectives: A Mystery (Expectant Detectives Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Cotswolds, England
Minotaur Books (January 9, 2024)
Hardcover : 384 pages
ISBN-10 : 1250322707
ISBN-13 : 978-1250322708
Kindle ASIN : B0C1X61S1F
Can they solve the mother of all murders?
For Alice and her partner Joe, moving to the sleepy village of Penton is a chance to embrace country life and prepare for the birth of their first child. He can take up woodwork; maybe she’ll learn to make jam? But the rural idyll they’d hoped for doesn’t quite pan out when a dead body is discovered at their local prenatal class, and they find themselves suspects in a murder investigation.
With a cloud of suspicion hanging over the heads of the whole group, Alice and her new-found pregnant friends set out to solve the mystery and clear their names, with the help of her troublesome dog, Helen. However, there are more secrets and tensions in the heart of Penton than first meets the eye. Between the discovery of a shady commune up in the woods, the unearthing of a mysterious death years earlier, and the near-tragic poisoning of Helen, Alice is soon in way over her head.
Expectant parents Alice and Joe, and their dog, Helen move out of the city to the small village of Penton for a simpler life as they prepare for the arrival of their first child. Neither are really ready to be parents but it’s too late to turn back now. Knowing no one, they sign up for a prenatal class being held above Nature’s Way, an organic shop, selling wind chimes, dream catchers, things made from hemp, and other “weird hippy” stuff. Shortly after the second class begins one of the participants goes into labor and delivers the baby on the spot. While everyone is distracted by the birth the owner of the shop downstairs is murdered and the entire class are suspects in his murder.
Alice makes quick friends with expectant mom Poppy, but soon, new mom, Hen, and still preggers, Ailsa are traipsing around the countryside trying to find the killer with some assistance from “beautiful” and “exceptionally stupid” Helen also known as “Legally Blonde of the dog world”. They soon find the sleepy town of Penton has many secrets that people are not willing to reveal including a curious prior death that has gone unsolved. Will the expectant detectives be able to solve two mysteries? Or will they just find themselves in a whole lotta trouble?
I had a hard time getting into the story at first because Alice and Joe moved to Penton with very little planning. The house needs work, they take forever to unpack, their furniture doesn’t fit, and they haven’t brought much for a baby that is due very soon. Alice seems oblivious about what is happening around her and has no clue how her life is going to change when that baby arrives. And Joe isn’t any better. Being a mom of four and a grandparent of six this made me a little crazy but I tried to remember back to when my first child was born, but nope, still crazy.
But I set that aside and kept reading and started laughing. Helen the dog steals the show. If there is mischief to find, she will find it. But it wasn’t all fun and games when one adventure takes a scary turn. You know the dog is extra precious when your friends invite you somewhere and they clearly tell you, “Don’t bring Helen!”
Truthfully the story is full of laugh-out-loud moments that had nothing to do with the dog including a special delivery from the prenatal class instructor and her lessons.
Ms. Ailes put forth a mystery with a lot of moving parts that took the expectant detectives to some interesting places including a commune, a birthing celebration, a gong bath, the newspaper archives, walks in the woods, and some pretty gardens too. Tying the new mystery to an old one did give the story some depth. It had the expectant detectives jumping to some faulty conclusions but Alice did find a clue that helped all the other clues fall into place. She also found a note that opened a whole new can of worms. I was able to hone in on the killer before Alice but I didn’t have all the details right until it was all spelled out.
The Expectant Detectives turned out to be a very entertaining read so I am glad I stuck with it. Tickling my funny bone got me engaged and then the story kept my attention. There were a couple of pacing issues and a bit of repetition but not enough issues to stop reading. Plus I needed to know how everything came together at the end.
Now I am interested in how this series is going to continue as all the expectant detectives become new moms. Dead Tired is set to be released on June 4, 2024. I will need to see how Alice is handling all the things motherhood is throwing at her and I assume another murder.
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About the Author
KAT AILES works in publishing as an editor and freelanced for several years to allow her to take a couple of belated gap years, including hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. She now lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, their young son, and her beautiful but foolish dog. The Expectant Detectives was her debut novel, the first draft of which was written largely (and frantically) in three weeks after she submitted the first few chapters to the Comedy Women in Print Prize and was unexpectedly shortlisted.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”