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 2022 Top 10:

1. Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen
2. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
3. Truly Devious Series by Maureen Johnson
4. The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray
5. Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
6. Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston
7. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
8. Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian
9. The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope
10. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Favorite Cozies:

Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder by Valerie Burns
Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Bryon
Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian
A Streetcar Named Murder by T.G. Herren
Renovated to Death by Frank Anthony Polito
Six Feet Deep Dish by Mindy Quigley
Last But Not Leashed by Ellen Brady
A Death in Door Country by Annelise Ryan
A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bisonnette
Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry

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

Staff Pick Badge
The Paris Mystery: A Novel By Kirsty Manning Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593685549
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - July 25th, 2023

It's 1938, and Australian reporter Charlie James has just accepted a new job in Paris. Her first assignment is to cover a lavish society party that ends in murder. Manning has created a vivid world of French couture, food, and high society shenanigans. Charlie is a wonderful new sleuth, and I can't wait for the next in the series. I loved it! - John 

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Cutting Teeth: A Novel By Chandler Baker Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250839787
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - July 18th, 2023

The children at Little Academy preschool have starting biting and craving blood. Now their teacher is dead, and they were the only witnesses. Fun seems like a strange word to describe this one, but it's an absolute blast. If you're looking for something different, but completely entertaining this is it!

*Disclaimer: The kids are NOT vampires. Their cravings are written as a medical condition, so there's nothing supernatural happening here. - John 

Staff Pick Badge
The Blonde Identity: A Novel By Ally Carter Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063276642
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avon - August 8th, 2023

Want a little more spy thriller in your rom-com? Then you absolutely need The Blonde Identity! It's got all the spy hijinx that you loved in Ally's Gallagher Girls and Heist Society books, but with more kissing! - John

Murder in Postscript (A Lady of Letters Mystery #1) By Mary Winters Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593548769
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - March 28th, 2023

This absolutely delightful read is perfect for Dianna Freeman, Manda Collins, and Darcie Wilde fans. 

Mary Winters has the perfect balance of humor, mystery, and romance, and I can't wait for the next in the series! - John 

Staff Pick Badge
The Wishing Game: A Novel By Meg Shaffer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593598832
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - May 30th, 2023

Years ago, a reclusive mega-bestselling children’s author quit writing under mysterious circumstances. Suddenly he resurfaces with a brand-new book and a one-of-a-kind competition, offering a prize that will change the winner’s life in this absorbing and whimsical novel.

This is one of my favorite things I've read in 2023 so far!  It's a love letter to the books we found as young readers, and how the lessons they taught can still help us today. I can't recommend it highly enough! - John 

Staff Pick Badge
Killing Me By Michelle Gagnon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593540749
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - May 16th, 2023

Amber's already been saved from one serial killer, but she must team up with the lovable misfits living at The Getaway (a seedy Vegas motel that's a bargain at $25 a night) to save herself from ANOTHER one.

Can a "reformed" con artist, a noir obsessed hotel owner turned armchair detective, a charming sexworker, and a mysterious serial killer hunter take down one of the most prolific killers ever?

This is the most fun I've had reading a book in a while. It's laugh out loud funny, and I didn't want it to end. Finlay Donovan fans, this needs to be your next read! - John

Staff Pick Badge
Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) By Leigh Bardugo Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250751362
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - October 20th, 2020

Lethe House monitors the secret societies at Yale, so why is Alex being told to drop a case when a woman with ties to multiple societies is murdered? This is SO GOOD! - John