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

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Death Prefers Blondes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250155825
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Feiwel & Friends - January 29th, 2019

Margo Channing isn't your stereotypical bored socialite. Oh she's bored, and she's got more money than she knows what to do with, but she's also a cat burglar with a crew of kick boxing drag queens pulling jewel heists all over LA. Socialites, drag queens, and jewel heists? What's not to love?! Roehrig wrote some of my favorite thrillers of 2018, and now he's written the most fun heist novel of 2019! - John (also HIGHLY recommended by Rebecca)

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Like a Love Story Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062839367
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - June 4th, 2019

Like A Love Story broke me and fixed me at the same time. Set in NYC in 1989, it chronicles the lives of three teens as they navigate the AIDS crisis. Nazemian captures perfectly what it felt like to be both excited and repelled by the thought of finding another gay kid to share experiences with, as well as the constant fear of wondering if AIDS was inevitable for all young gay men. He also nailed the joy of discovering your first diva, and realizing it was about so much more than the music. I finished Like A Love Story with tears streaming down my face. They were tears of recognition, of seeing myself so accurately reflected on the pages of a book. 

— John

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Keep This to Yourself Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807541517
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: AW Teen - May 21st, 2019

What a fantastic thriller! A year after a serial killer traumatized a small town, a young man starts asking questions, trying to find out what really happened to his friend.  Tom Ryan's Keep This To Yourself felt like an updated Christopher Pike or Lois Duncan thriller. It was one of the best plotted thrillers I've read in a while, and I did not see the twist coming! I inhaled this one. - John

— John

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Swipe Right for Murder Cover Image
By Derek Milman, James Patterson (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780316451062
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
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

Drawn and Buttered (A Lobster Shack Mystery #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250116741
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - February 26th, 2019

Drawn and Buttered is the third book in a wonderfully satisfying cozy mystery series set at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in coastal New England.

The Lazy Mermaid’s business has slowed to a snail’s pace—until a monster lobster claws his way onto the scene…

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The Calamity Café (A Down South Café Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101990780
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - June 7th, 2016

First in a new cozy mystery series featuring Southern cooking that is to die for.

Aspiring chef and small-town Virginia native Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café offering old-fashioned Southern food. But her dream may go up in smoke when someone kills the competition...

The Egyptian Antiquities Murder Cover Image
ISBN: 9780998843186
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: McGuffin Ink - April 15th, 2019

An opulent London townhouse, a mummy curse . . .

. . . and a plucky lady detective. It's October, 1923, and Olive Belgrave has a new case. Her client, Lady Agnes doesn't believe in curses, and she hires Olive to prove her Egyptologist uncle wasn't the victim of a malevolent mummy. Olive investigates and discovers the truth is much worse--it's murder.

And Then There Were Crumbs: A Cookie House Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250312990
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - July 30th, 2019

She’s a talented pastry chef—with a secret recipe for solving crimes…

A Cup of Holiday Fear (A Bakeshop Mystery #10) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250214348
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - September 24th, 2019

It’s Christmastime and everyone is heading to Torte, the most cheerful bakery in town. There’s no place like home for the homicide…

The Loch Ness Papers (A Scottish Bookshop Mystery #4) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250127815
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - April 2nd, 2019

Bookseller Delaney Nichols befriends a Loch Ness monster enthusiast; when he stands accused of murder she'll do whatever it takes to learn who the killer is—and whether Nessie herself is really lurking in the Scottish waters.

Murder Lo Mein (A Noodle Shop Mystery #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250129192
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - March 26th, 2019

The third in a tasty series, Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien is a delight!

Everyone agrees that the food at Ho-Lee Noodle House is delicious—unless it happens to be deadly.

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Murder Once Removed (Ancestry Detective #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250189035
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - March 19th, 2019

In Murder Once Removed, S.C. Perkins makes Austin come alive. Lucy Lancaster is looking into Gus Halloran's family history, and discovers one of his ancestors was murdered. Gus is an over-the-top Texan, but in Perkins's hands he's not a caricature.  Lucy's discovery stirs up past resentments and leads to another murder. To solve the new murder, she's got to solve the one from 1849. By the time you finish, you'll want to hit up Lucy's favorite restaurant for a margarita. A dynamic secondary cast rounds out this great read. - John

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501156250
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery/Scout Press - April 30th, 2019


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s fourth novel, “her best yet” (Library Journal, starred review).

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing

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My Lovely Wife Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451491725
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - March 26th, 2019

What a fun and twisted read! What started as an accident has become a game for a husband and wife. Together they stalk and kill young women. At least that's what the husband thinks. Downing has fun playing with many of the tropes we've come to expect in domestic suspense, and she twists them in the most delightful way. I was hooked by this one from the start and didn't want to put it down until I knew every twist and turn. - John