Expiry Date is the third book in Rachel Ward’s Ant & Bea Mysteries, a cosy murder mystery series set at a supermarket. When a body turns up on a nearby building site it throws suspicion onto Bea’s deceased father. With him not able to clear his name it’s up to Bea & Ant to uncover the truth. It will be published on the 19th of June 2020 from Sandstone Press. I was very kindly #GIFTED an early copy of the book from Sandstone, but all opinions are my own.
Although this is the third book in the series when I read it I had not yet read the previous two. Typically, in these sorts of mystery series, each book stands on its own, and I do feel like this one did. I have since gone back to read the first one, which was available from BorrowBox and my local library.
The best element of Expiry Date was without a doubt the characters. The main characters and sleuths of the book, Ant & Bea are in their twenties and both work at a supermarket together. Traditionally in a cosy murder mystery book, the lion’s share of characterisation goes to the sleuths, which can leave the supporting characters a little flimsy. Not so for Ward as each and, every character feels like a fully fleshed-out person. This sort of thorough characterisation is the driving force of the book, as your enjoyment is going to hinge on how much you’re rooting for them. I would say that Bea feels a lot older than her twenty-odd years, and there were times when I thought that perhaps she was an older woman. I think that this is a conscious decision to contrast her as much as possible with Ant, who’s had a much more unstable life. Possibly this contrast is taken just a tad too far but overall, they are great characters to put at the centre of the mystery.
In terms of plot, it is a decent mystery. There’s a personal stake in it for Bea, whose father was a suspect when the deceased first went missing. The mystery was an interesting one but for me, it was never a compelling one, and I was never personally invested. However, that said it had good pacing and Ward was great at balancing tension with moments of levity when she needed to. She is a very capable writer, which is always encouraging when it comes to reading more from any writer.
Overall, I gave Expiry Date ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of a possible five stars, meaning that it was a fun, standard, cosy murder mystery. It’s a good one to pick up if you’re after something a bit more contemporary than Agatha Christie, or even M.C Beaton. While it lacked a big twist, I would defiantly read more from this series and recommend it to others.
Expiry Date is available to buy right now directly from the publishers at Sandstone Press, or from your usual bookshop.