John's Staff Picks

John McDougall, Event Coordinator at Murder By The Book since 2010

I love watching the parts of a mystery fall into place, but I think what really pulls me in is the characters. Cozies are so fun because you get to know these small towns and wish you could visit. Reading about Lady Emily in Tasha Alexander's books is like getting to catch up with an old friend. I want characters that break your heart like Marc Rochat in The Watchers, or make you laugh like Victoria Laurie and Mary Kay Andrews's characters always do. I love picking up a book like City of Dark Magic and thinking, ‘These things shouldn't really fit together, but they totally do.’ You can't help but want to hang on for the ride.

For additional cozy mystery recommendations, check out John's Cozy Corner.


John's 2018 Top 10:

1. Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro
2. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
3. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyikan Braitwaite
4. A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne
5. The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
6. Death By Dumpling by Vivien Chien
7. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
8. The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
9. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
10. The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

Find of the year - The Bakeshop Mysteries by Ellie Alexander

Staff Pick Badge
Swipe Right for Murder Cover Image
By Derek Milman, James Patterson (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780316451062
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: jimmy patterson - August 6th, 2019

I am obsessed with Derek Milman's queer take on North by Northwest. From the book starting with a Grindr hookup going horribly wrong to the Drag Race quoting villain that you also sort of root for, I love how unapologetically queer SWIPE RIGHT FOR MURDER is. Milman's fast-paced thriller mixes LGBT history with a little bit of a revenge fantasy. He keeps the reader guessing along with Aidan as he tries to figure out which side is the right one. - John

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A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984823021
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth - August 6th, 2019

This book is deliciously messed up! Maurice wants to be an author, and won't let a lack of ideas stop him. Seriously, Maurice gives Tom Ripley a run for his money. One of favorites of 2018! - John

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And Then There Were Crumbs: A Cookie House Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250312990
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - July 30th, 2019

Like the start of all good cozies, Kate McGuire has left her life in NYC behind to start over in Coral Cay, FL. She manages to get a job at The Cookie House, a bakery that doesn't actually sell cookies. When her new boss is accused of murder, Kate tries to clear his name while also keeping his business open. 

And Then There Were Crumbs is the perfect blend of beach read andcozy mystery. And like all good cozies it's got a great cast of characters,and I loved the way the citizens of Coral Cay all worked together to solve the mystery. Calder has created a real sense of community in her book. Oliver, the dog, is adorable, and I'm looking forward to the 2nd book in the series. - John

A Nice Cup of Tea Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635573558
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - August 6th, 2019

In this witty third novel in the Nice series, from beloved actress Celia Imrie, the retired expats in the South of France must rally to save their failing restaurant, and protect Theresa from an unsavory stalker.

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The Air You Breathe: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735211001
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - July 2nd, 2019

The Air You Breathe chronicles the story of two girls and their dreams of radio stardom in 1930s Brazil and career in Hollywood. I immediately fell under the books spell. The writing is so beautiful, andthe characters so fully realized that I felt like I could almost hear their sambas. I kept wanting to track down old Sofia Salvador records to listen to when I read. I didn't want the book to end, and found myself sobbing as I read the last few pages. This is one I'll be thinking about for a long time. - John

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The Prisoner in the Castle: A Maggie Hope Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525621096
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bantam - July 30th, 2019

Maggie has been sent to an island with other agents who are not fit to join the world, and now they're being picked off one by one. A great homage to Agatha Christie! - John