Meet Our Staff


Below are bios for each member of the MBTB staff, including a list of some of their favorite authors.  Click on a staff member's name to be taken to a page with their staff picks and reviews!


Mary Allen at Murder By The Book since 2014 

Mary stumbled happily into the bookstore world in 2012 and hasn't looked back. When she isn't reading or talking about books, she's either poking around on music websites, watching British stand-up, drinking Vietnamese coffee or dreaming of the day when she'll live in an apartment complex that'll allow her to have a dog.   

Her favorite authors include: Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, Keigo Higashino, Arundhati Roy, Dorothy Allison and Mohsin Hamid. She's new to the mystery genre and will update her author list as she discovers new favorites.

Daniel Bland at Murder By The Book since 2010

Daniel currently attends high school at St. John's School.  His activities include alphabetizing books, playing baseball, reading, and winning.  

Some of Daniel's favorite authors: Michael Crichton, Jim Butcher, Patrick Lee, Matthew Reilly, Derek Landy, Alex Berenson, and Jonathan Mayberry.  


Dean James at Murder By The Book since 1984

Our former store manager, Dean now works full-time at the Texas Medical Center Library (in addition to a Ph.D. in History from Rice, he has a Master's in Library Science) and part-time (every Saturday) at Murder By The Book.  He's also an award-winning author of both mystery non-fiction -- including By a Woman's Hand and Killer Books (both co-written with Jean Swanson) -- and mystery fiction, including the Wanda Nell Culpepper novels (written as Jimmie Ruth Evans), the Bridge Club mysteries (written as Honor Hartman), and the New York Times Bestselling Cat in the Stacks mysteries (written as Miranda James).

Some of Dean's favorite authors: Margery Allingham, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Anne Perry, Charlaine Harris, Carolyn Haines, and Carolyn Hart.


Brenda Jordan at Murder By The Book since 2009

Brenda's "Claim to Fame" is she is McKenna's mother. Some of Brenda's favorite authors: Martin Walker, Alan Bradley, Kate Morton, Jacqueline Winspear, Louise Penny, Daniel Silva, Charles Todd, Anne Zouroudi, and Ariana Franklin


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

McKenna has her Bachelor's Degree in English and a Master's in Violin Performance from University of Houston. She's owned Murder By The Book since January 2009.

Some of McKenna's favorite authors; Megan Abbott, Cara Black, Ken Bruen, Kerry Greenwood, Charlaine Harris, Carolyn Haines, Peter Lovesey, Daniel Silva, Jacqueline Winspear.


John Kwiatkowski, Publicity Manager at Murder By The Book since 2010

In previous career incarnations, John has sold model and toy trains, and been a barista.  Prior to joining the Murder By The Book team he managed one of the local chain bookstores.  When his nose isn't in a book he loves going to concerts, seeing musicals, going to Las Vegas, and spending afternoons in Hermann Park.

John's favorite authors include: Arturo Perez-Reverte, Tasha Alexander, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Daphne Du Maurier, Wilkie Collins, Jacqueline Sussan, Victoria Laurie, and Louise Penny.


Sam Mayer at Murder By The Book since 2008

Sam has been working at Murder By The Book off and on since 2008.  His favorite authors are: Jasper Fforde, Joyce Porter, Ann Purser, Hazel Holt, Marne Davis Kellogg, and Daniel Woodrell.  He's around when he's not at school in Vermont.


Sally Woods at Murder By The Book since 2011

Sally has been in the bookselling biz for almost 20 years.  She comes to MBTB via various Houston indie bookstores.  She did have a life prior to bookstores, but that seems long ago.  She is also somewhat new to the mystery genre and is learning about new authors all the time.

Some her favorite authors include: Stephen King, John Sandford, Dean Koontz, Sue Grafton, Kevin Brockmeier, Dan Chaon, Gillian Flynn, Joyce Carol Oates (especially the short stories), Margaret Atwood, and newly discovered Peter James.