Brenda's Staff Picks

Brenda Jordan at Murder By The Book since 2009

After years of reading only True Crime, I slowly moved to mystery novels. Now, I primarily read British, Historical, Foreign and Espionage novels. From Peter James to Alan Bradley, Geraldine Brooks to Mark Pryor, Kate Morton to Amor Towles, Martin Walker to Daniel Silva, each author offers his/her unique ability to tell a story well. And, the well-written, well-told story is what I want!

Whether fast-paced, intense, poignant, charming— I know the story has “it” when I can’t get it out of my mind. What’s better than the anticipation of a new book by a favorite author, or the unexpected find of a great book by a new author? Nothing! That’s what it’s all about.

Brenda's 2018 Top Ten:

1.  The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachmann
2.  The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
3. Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield
4.  The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
5.  Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
6.  Force of Nature by Jane Harper
7.  The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
8.  Dead if You Don't  by Peter James
9.  Sirens by Joseph Knox
10.  A Gentleman's Murder by Christopher Huang
Finds of the Year:

Iona Whishaw - Lane Winslow series
Steve Burrows - Dominic Jejeune series
Robert Bryndza - Erica Foster series
Robert Galbraith - Comoran Strike series

The Lost Man Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250105684
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - February 5th, 2019

Jane Harper's latest book, The Lost Man, is an atmospheric standalone. With the feel of The Dry,  Harper again transports the reader to the intense heat and arid landscape of rural Australia. Set at Christmas, this is the story of family secrets, jealousies and grudges which are finally out in the open.

Three brothers own and operate large cattle ranches in the outback. Their properties border each other, but their homes are hours apart. When middle brother is found dead near an old landmark, the question is asked...suicide, or murder.

The Lost Man is just what you'd expect from Harper. ..well-written, incredible sense of place and an unexpected climax. Pick up a copy, get a big glass of ice water and enjoy! - Brenda

Staff Pick Logo
The Book Artist (Hugo Marston #8) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781633884885
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Seventh Street Books - February 5th, 2019

So atmospheric and well-written, Mark Pryor's 8th book in the Hugo Marston series may just be my favorite. - Brenda

Staff Pick Logo
Once Upon a River: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743298070
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - December 4th, 2018

Diane Setterfield's Once Upon A River is absolutely magical. A tale passed down through the generations, part fairytale, part folklore, entirely intoxicating, I could not put this book down. It's the ancient story of a dark, cold and stormy night -- when a bloodied stranger carrying a small girl stumbles into a pub. The proprietor and guests rally to tend to them, only to find the girl is dead. Or is she? Beautifully written with flowing prose, Setterfield's newest offering will surely stand the test of time. - Brenda

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Careless Love: A DCI Banks Novel (Inspector Banks Novels #25) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062847522
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - February 12th, 2019

A local young woman's body is found in an abandoned car on a country road.  Assuming suicide, it soon becomes apparent there are too many questions surrounding her death to close the case as suicide.  She couldn't drive, didn't own a car, but how did she get there?

Not long after this call was received, another call comes in...a dead man who appears to have fallen from an isolated moorland road.  Wearing an expensive suit, but with no identification, who is he?  What's he doing there alone?  Where's a car?  Was he pushed?

Are the two cases connected?  Many questions for Alan Banks to answer...and two cases to solve. - Brenda 

Staff Pick Logo
The Smiling Man: A Novel (An Aidan Waits Thriller #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524763190
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - January 22nd, 2019

Follow-up to last year's Sirens, Aidan Waits is back on night shift in Manchester.  His boredom of petty crime is remedied when he responds to a call at The Palace, an abandoned hotel.  There, a murdered man is found,  his teeth filed down, tips of his fingers removed and tags from his clothes cut out.  Oh, and yes, he's smiling!

Who is he?  Why is he there?  As Aidan investigates, he finds that someone wants the case to disappear...can this be more about Aidan than the Smiling Man?

With the same intensity of Sirens, The Smiling Man is a perfect second book.  Knox has the making of a really good series on his hands. - Brenda