The Expectant Detectives
May 30, 2024

Book Review

The Expectant Detectives

reviewed by Warner Holme

Kat Ailes’ The Expectant Detectives deals with a woman named Alice living in a nice countryside village named Penton when someone mysteriously dies at her birthing class. As a result of personal concern and some degree of curiosity, Alice investigates, soon finding layer upon layer of oddity.

One of the biggest markers of a cozy mystery is that it takes place over the course of a series starting with a single volume. As sequels to this have not been announced, that particular judgment criterion is out of the window, leaving other details to tell how much like a cozy mystery this first book reads. The differences are fairly obvious. Alice is heavily pregnant at the start of the mystery, and the status of her partner, Joe, as living with her places her in a position where there is little chance of significant romantic intrigue without heavy drama. This also places it outside the realm of most cozy mysteries today. Other elements like the pet, smaller town setting, and humor, on the other hand, fit well into that subgenre.

The book includes a fair bit of very frank discussion of pregnancy and gynecological issues. None of this is necessarily bad, and certainly not given in the most disgusting terms, but it will surprise a reader expecting the usual gloss of a cozy mystery. Instead, this takes on a rougher sense of humor, not blue or toilet typically, but definitely outside of some comfort zones. All the same, the fact that it remains largely within character voice keeps such matters more than understandable.

The mystery of this volume is structured well enough, and the secondary layers of personal mystery give the whole story extra stakes that might not exist in many cozy types. At the same time, personal intrigue certainly exists, sometimes involving the same questionable parentage or potential loved one as a guilty party.

Alice is a well-drawn character, clearly taken from life based on the author’s biographical blurbs, yet with a sufficient amount of over-the-top personality to work in a book often deliberately laced with absurdity. Joe is less developed, but between his personal quirks and family issues, he is given as much characterization as most romantic partners in the cozy or comedy mystery genres. Holly, the dog on the cover, is very much involved in the plot. In addition to being a large enough element in Alice’s life that she’s fairly confident the dog would qualify as an emotional support animal, Holly also serves as an excuse to connect with certain other individuals who make themselves relatively scarce and otherwise are only frequently reached via transcribed text message.

The characters are well-drawn if not exceptionally realistic, but given that this is a book whose own backwater compares portions to Legally Blonde, that is probably quite appropriate. For fans of humorous mysteries and those familiar with taking action while pregnant, this is definitely worth a read.

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