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 2019 Top Ten:

1. The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
2. The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
3. The Book Artist by Mark Pyror
4. The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
5. The Whisper Man by Alex North
6. Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
7. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
8. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
9. The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup
10. The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Find of the Year: Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy

Check out Brenda's Recommendations Playlist on the MBTB YouTube channel.

Staff Pick Badge
The Darkest Evening: A Vera Stanhope Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250204509
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - September 8th, 2020

The latest book in the Vera Stanhope series finds Vera investigating a crime that involves family ties.  

Headed home during a snowstorm, Vera misses a turn and becomes disoriented amid the blinding snow.  When she rounds a corner and finds a car has skidded off the road, driver door open, she stops to help.  The driver is nowhere around, and as she looks around the area, she hears a cry…

that of a baby.  And yes, a baby is strapped in his car seat in the backseat of the vehicle.  Vera collects the child and drives away from the scene, soon arriving at a place she knows well - Brockburn - her family home.  Being regarded as the “black sheep” of the family, Vera hasn’t been back to Brockburn for years.  She arrives to find a party in full bloom.  Taken into the warmth of the home, Vera begins to investigate the identity of the child. However, soon the body of a young woman is found on the property…perhaps the child’s mother?

Investigation of the dead woman and the found toddler throws Vera back into her past…a past she left behind years ago.  

Ninth in the series, Vera just keeps getting better with age. - Brenda

Staff Pick Badge
The Mystery of Henri Pick (Walter Presents) Cover Image
By David Foenkinos, Sam Taylor (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781782275824
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pushkin Press - September 1st, 2020

For fans of The Awkward Squad, pick up a copy of The Mystery of Henri Pick.  This quirky, witty, poignant novel is perfect for those who love to read books about books.  Set in Brittany in the small town of Crozon, editor Delphine Despero  is on holiday with her family.  The Crozon library houses a section devoted to rejected manuscripts, a place where unpublished authors can leave their work, saved for prosperity.

It is in this section that Delphine finds a gem - a manuscript written by the late Henri Pick, a local pizza chef.  

Taken back to Paris and published, the novel becomes an oversight sensation.  But journalist and sceptic Jean-Michel Rouche heads to Crozon to investigate the story surrounding the found manuscript.  What ensues is a witty, quirky and tender story.

A real delight and perfect summer read, pick up a copy now! - Brenda

Staff Pick Badge
Murder in Chianti (A Tuscan Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781641291798
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Crime - July 7th, 2020

Meet Nico Doyle, a former New York City Police homicide detective, who has moved to the heart of Chianti, to the village of Gravigna.  After the death of his wife Rita, he's uprooted and moved to her hometown in hopes of grieving and healing.  An avid cook, helping in Rita's aunt's restaurant has made Nico feel welcome. 

Early one morning he hears a gunshot in the woods near his cabin. The insistent barking of a dog leads him to the body of a dead man, clad in gold tennis shoes.  When the small white dog refuses to leave Nico's side, he lies to the police and claims he's the dog's owner.

It's not long before Nico is pulled into the police investigation by Salvatore Perillo, the local maresciallo.  Identity of the dead man reveals he was no stranger to residents of Gravigna.  

Food, wine, friends, a dog -- perfect for Martin Walker's Bruno fans. I hope this isn't the last we've heard from Nico. - Brenda 

Staff Pick Badge
The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope Cover Image
ISBN: 9781464212987
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Poisoned Pen Press - June 2nd, 2020

Award-winner C. W. Grafton, father of Sue Grafton, wrote The Rat Began To Gnaw The Rope in 1943.  Gil Henry, a short, chubby nondescript attorney is the main character in this series.  When beautiful Ruth McClure walks into his office and asks him to investigate the value of stocks left to her from her father, Gil doesn't think much about it.  But as he begins his investigation, trouble finds him.  Beaten up, stabbed, and even shot, Gil teams up with Ruth and her secretive brother to unravel the truths surrounding the stocks.

Alternating between Gil's wit and a hard-boiled tale, this is truly an entertaining read. - Brenda

Staff Pick Badge
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne: A Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250142818
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - August 4th, 2020

In 1703 London, Sir Barnaby Mayne, a most revered scientist and collector of rare artifacts, has amassed an extensive collection of bones, rare gems/stones and books. By invitation only, collectors, scientists and the curious are allowed into his world to observe his life's work.  

But not all who visit are what they seem.  Stabbed to death, Mayne's body is discovered while an unattended tour of his collection is in progress. It's botanist and friend Cecily Cay who is determined to find Mayne's killer. But, the deeper she digs, the more danger she encounters.

Beautifully written, Hart's atmospheric tale places the reader in Mayne's world.  Well done! - Brenda