I grew up on a diet of cosy crime fed to me by my mum, whose chief literary love in life is historical murder mysteries a la Brother Cadfael, Poirot, Amelia Peabody etc, and I've been lusting after the Ant and Bea series ever since I talked about The Cost of Living in the Past Publishers post we did for Sandstone Press and I finally gave in last week and bought myself the series so far.
I really didn't plan to read all three books in four days, but once I started it was incredibly hard to put them down! The first book is The Cost of Living, in which we are introduced to Bea, who works on the checkouts at Costsave, a local supermarket, and Ant, who is on his first day as cleaner, trolley boy and general dogsbody. Bea loves her customers and after one of them is attacked on her way home from the supermarket she decides to investigate further, bringing along Ant for the ride.
Spending time with Ant and Bea and all the people in their lives really feels like spending time with real people and getting immersed in their community of Kingsleigh. There's nothing in any of the three books - The Cost of Living is followed by Dead Stock and most recently by Expiry Date - that jars you out of the world set up by the story, and so you just get immersed and there you stay until the drama is all wrapped up. I also really enjoyed the different emphasis of the three mysteries so far. It kept me guessing and added an element of freshness to every story which counterbalanced beautifully with the familiarity of returning to the same characters and setting time after time.
If you read a lot of crime or mysteries then there will likely be elements of the stories that you will be able to predict, however I would say that it's probably unlikely that you'd work out every element of each of the cases and I really enjoyed the surprises. The characters in this series are really people I wanted to spend more time with and I was really happy that I'd taken advantage of Sandstone Press's crime bundle offer to buy the whole series at once (they're not incentivising me in any way to say this, I just love them and everything they publish). As we're heading into autumn, I honestly can't think of much more perfect than curling up with a mystery or three, a blanket and a mug of tea of an evening!
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