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 2020 Top 10:

1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
2. Firewatching by Russ Thomas
3. Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming
4. A Beautiful Crime by Christopher Bollen
5. The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig
6. The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James
7. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
8. White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton
9. The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John
10. Haunted Homicide by Lucy Ness

And my favorite discovery of the year was the Lucy Stone mysteries by Leslie Meier.

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

Staff Pick Badge
From the Desk of Zoe Washington Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062875860
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 5th, 2021

#1 Kids Indie Next List * Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year * Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book of the Year * SLJ Best Book of the Year * Kirkus Best Book of the Year * Junior Library Guild Selection * Edgar Award Nominee * Four Starred Reviews

Staff Pick Badge
Finlay Donovan Is Killing It: A Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250241702
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - February 2nd, 2021

"Getting the job done" for one single mom takes on a whole new meaning in Finlay Donovan is Killing It.

One of "The Most Anticipated Books of Winter 2021" —Parade
One of "The Most Anticipated Debuts of 2021" —Bustle
One of "The Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers of 2021" —Goodreads
One of "The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2021" —Crimereads

Watch the Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9781478974239
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - June 4th, 2019

Fame and obsession collide in this darkly twisted novel featuring a former Hollywood starlet with a devastating secret in this psychological thriller People magazine praises as "fast-paced and involving", from an incredible new voice in suspense.

I've been watched all my life. I'm used to being stared at. Observed. Followed.

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538736135
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Forever - November 10th, 2020

"[Manda] Collins is a delight" (Elizabeth Hoyt) in this fun and flirty historical rom-com, where an intrepid female reporter matches wits with a serious, sexy detective -- perfect for fans of Tessa Dare, Julia Quinn, and Netflix's Enola Holmes!

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Valentine Candy Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496727015
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Kensington - December 29th, 2020

The Lucy Stone series is my new obsession. I've devoured 7 of them in the last few weeks. Lucy Stone is a mom living in Tinker's Cove, Maine. Between dropping off the kids at school, serving on the library board, and (eventually) writing for the local paper she finds herself solving mysteries. A lot of cozies feature single women who have returned to their small town, but I love that Lucy is a mom and has deep ties to her community. You see her worrying about family finances, and since the series starts in the late 90s you also get to see her adapt to technology.

These books are a little more serious than you would expect them to be based on the covers, but they're still on the cozy side. I would compare them to the Callahan Garrity books that Mary Kay Andrews wrote as Kathy Hogan Trocheck.

Digging into a log running series can be daunting, but the books in the series stand on their own so you can jump in anywhere. You can pick a favorite holiday and start there. If you want to read the series in order I recommend starting with book 3, Trick or Treat Murder (which is included in Halloween Murder). There are a few plot things in the first two books that might turn off some cozy readers, and I'm happy to chat with you about those, but you really can jump in with book three. - John

Firewatching (A Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler Novel #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525542032
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - January 26th, 2021

A taut and ambitious police procedural debut introducing Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler, a cold case reviewer who lands a high-profile murder investigation, only to find the main suspect is his recent one-night stand . . .

A Beautiful Crime: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062853899
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - January 12th, 2021

An O Magazine Best Book of the Year

“Stylish… a compelling take on the eternal question of how good people morph into criminals. Terrific.”People, Book of the Week