McKenna's Staff Picks

McKenna Jordan, Store Owner at Murder By The Book since 2003

Having read crime fiction almost exclusively for the last fifteen years at MBTB, this “staff stack” was incredibly challenging to narrow down. I decided to go with an approach of which books represent both my reading taste as well as my history - to this point - with the bookstore. Every one of this holds a special place in my heart and has a story to go along with it. 

I have a real respect for the genre and its icons, and I love unique characters. That’s basically all I can find as a thread of similarity throughout my reading taste. I’m happy to read across the genre as long as it’s well-written, and there’s nothing that beats a fresh new voice that grabs you from the first line. 

McKenna's 2019 Top 10:

1. The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
2. The Butterfly Girl  by Rene Denfeld
3. The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
4. Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard
5. City of Windows by Robert Pobi
6. Stick Together by Sophie Henaff
7. The Paris Diversion by Chris Pavone
8. Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
9. A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty
10. Death in Provence by Serena Kent


Staff Pick Badge
Eight Perfect Murders: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062838209
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - March 3rd, 2020

Malcolm Kershaw, the owner of a specialty crime fiction bookstore in Boston, has published a blog post about eight classic mysteries - landmarks of the genre. It seems harmless enough, except for the unfortunate coincidence that someone is killing people using plot devices from those books, and his blog post is the only thing that connects them. On a nasty, snowy night, Malcolm is visited by the FBI, needing his help to find the killer - or give away his own guilt. I loved this smart, compelling thriller that is tightly-plotted and witty - with bonus points for all the mystery bookseller experiences that Swanson hits right on the head! - McKenna

Signed copies available!

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Death in Provence: A Penelope Kite Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062869869
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Paperbacks - February 25th, 2020

British divorcee Penelope Kite decides to get away from it all and retire to the south of France, where she finds Le Chant d’Eau—The Song of Water—a stone farmhouse with a garden, swimming pool, and sweeping mountain vistas. She falls in love with the property and decides, with the help of a local realtor, to make an offer despite the property's title being tied up in something fishy. When she finds out the house is hers, she relocates quickly, eager to renovate and create her little slice of heaven. But when she finds a body floating in her swimming pool on her first morning, she knows she might be involved in something tricky. Fortunately, as a former staff member for a forensic pathologist, Penelope is no stranger to crime, and sets out to help the police in any way she can.... Perfect for fans of Peter Mayle, this mystery full of small-town politics, an evocative Provencal setting, and vibrant characters was an absolute bonbon of a first novel. I'm so happy to know this is the first in a new series  - I can't wait to read the next installment! - McKenna

The Stranger Diaries Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358117865
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - October 1st, 2019

Highly recommended by the entire staff!

Check out our recommendation on Buzzfeed!

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The Widows: A Novel (The Kinship Series #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250223203
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - January 7th, 2020

Welcome to the 1925 Appalachian mining town of Kinship, Ohio, where a recent coal mine, "The Widowmaker," has caved in destroying many families. The popular town sheriff, Daniel Ross, has his hands full with miners being jailed, Pinkertons being hired by the mine owners and overall high tensions. Fortunately, he has his wife Lily working with him as the jail mistress. When Daniel goes on a trip to help retrieve a prisoner, and is killed, Lily, widowed, distraught, and acting as interim sheriff, starts her journey to find out what happened. After Daniel's funeral, she meets Marvena, a tough woman who also had a very close relationship with Daniel, and it becomes apparent that the two are going to have to work together to bring about justice. This is a remarkable historical mystery debut that will have you wiping coal dust off your face while reading it. I loved Marvena and Lily - both remarkable women - and I hope you will too! Highly recommended! - McKenna

Trace of Evil: A Natalie Lockhart Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250205711
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - December 3rd, 2019

An IndieNext Pick!

"Gripping...Blanchard keeps the tension high." - Associated Press

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The Woman in the Mirror: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250230058
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - March 17th, 2020

Rebecca James unveils a chilling modern gothic novel of a family consumed by the shadows and secrets of its past in The Woman in the Mirror.