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 2019 Top 10 Cozy Mysteries:

1. A Cup of Holiday Fear by Ellie Alexander
2. Coached to Death by Victoria Laurie
3. Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins
4. And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder
5. Death in a Budapest Butterfly by Julia Buckley
6. The Calamity Cafe by Gayle Leeson
7. Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien
8. The Loch Ness Papers by Paige Shelton
9. Against the Claw by Shari Randall
10. Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey

Non-Cozy Top 3:

The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Swipe Right For Murder by Derek Milman

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

Staff Pick Badge
The Angel of the Crows Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765387394
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - June 23rd, 2020

Sherlock Holmes, except he's an angel, solving mysteries in 1880s London, where there are all kinds of other supernatural creatures. - John

Staff Pick Badge
The House in the Cerulean Sea Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250217288
Availability: Able to Backorder
Published: Tor Books - March 17th, 2020

While The House in the Cerulean Sea feels like a quiet little book it speaks so loudly of understanding, love, and found family. You'll want to hug it to your chest and carry it with you. And you will carry it with you, because each tender moment in this book will leave its mark on your heart. - John

Staff Pick Badge
From the Desk of Zoe Washington Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062875853
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 14th, 2020

I ADORED this middle grade read. Zoe Washington wants to be the next Food Network Kids Bake Challenge! Star. On her 12th she gets a letter from her birth father, a man she’s never met. He’s in jail for murder, but he might be innocent! Can she clear his name, intern at a bakery, and get on TV?

This book has so much heart. I wish I could turn on the TV and watch Zoe compete. Marks addresses issues like racial profiling and wrongful incarceration in ways that are easy for kids to understand.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough! It’s got a killer soundtrack! Just make sure you pick up some cupcakes before you start reading or your mouth will be watering the whole time. - John (Recommended for ages 8 and up)

Staff Pick Badge
The Court of Miracles Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524772857
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 2nd, 2020

It's Les Mis, but Eponine is a cat burglar! - John

Staff Pick Badge
Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496724496
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Kensington - June 30th, 2020

Jane has earned a reputation within her bridge club for being a fixer. Need to break up with your hairdresser? Need someone to vet your online dates? Jane can help you out! Her first paying gig as a Professional Busybody is working undercover to discover the source of conflict at a retirement community.

From dining room cliques, food fights, and tensions over tee times she can't decide if the residents are 16 or 60. When pranks turn to murder it's up to Jane to figure out what is going on! If you just need a hearty laugh, Jane Darrowfield can help you out with that too! I loved it. - John

Staff Pick Badge
Death Below Stairs (A Below Stairs Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399585517
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - January 2nd, 2018

Kat Holloway (known as Mrs. H) has just taken a position as cook for the Rankin household. After her first day, her assistant is murdered. Mrs. H is determined to find the murderer with the help of the mysterious Daniel McAdam and Lord Rankin's unconventional sister-in-law. They make a fantastic team as they realize this wasn't just a simple murder.

This is the start of a great Victorian series. It came out a few years ago, and I wish I had pick this one up sooner. The upside is that now I've got three more in the series to enjoy. Perfect for Anne Perry or Victoria Thompson fans. - John