Brenda's Staff Picks

Brenda Jordan at Murder By The Book since 2009

After years of reading only True Crime, I slowly moved to mystery novels. Now, I primarily read British, Historical, Foreign and Espionage novels. From Peter James to Alan Bradley, Geraldine Brooks to Mark Pryor, Kate Morton to Amor Towles, Martin Walker to Daniel Silva, each author offers his/her unique ability to tell a story well. And, the well-written, well-told story is what I want!

Whether fast-paced, intense, poignant, charming— I know the story has “it” when I can’t get it out of my mind. What’s better than the anticipation of a new book by a favorite author, or the unexpected find of a great book by a new author? Nothing! That’s what it’s all about.

Brenda's 2018 Top Ten:

1.  The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachmann
2.  The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
3. Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield
4.  The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
5.  Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
6.  Force of Nature by Jane Harper
7.  The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
8.  Dead if You Don't  by Peter James
9.  Sirens by Joseph Knox
10.  A Gentleman's Murder by Christopher Huang
Finds of the Year:

Iona Whishaw - Lane Winslow series
Steve Burrows - Dominic Jejeune series
Robert Bryndza - Erica Foster series
Robert Galbraith - Comoran Strike series

Staff Pick Logo
The Italian Teacher Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735222694
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - March 20th, 2018

When I am haunted by a book for weeks after I read it, I know it's something special. Not since I read A Gentleman In Moscow have I been so touched. This book is the story of Pinch, the son of a world-renown artist; a story of a little boy's love for his father;  a story of family, art, legacy, and devotion. 

The Italian Teacher defies more description...just get it!!! My highest recommendation! - Brenda

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The Word Is Murder: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062676788
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - June 5th, 2018

What a book!!!  I loved it!!!  Horowitz has again confirmed he's one of the best!

The book begins with an older lady walking into a funeral home -- to plan her own funeral.  Six hours later, she's dead. Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant albeit disgraced Scotland Yard police detective is called in as a consultant to solve the crime.  But Hawthorne wants someone to write a novel based on his investigation, and since he's worked on several projects with Anthony Horowitz in the past...seems only logical to get Horowitz to follow him around and write the story.

So begins the collaboration of the two.  As Horowitz becomes Watson to Hawthorne's Holmes, they soon get down to solving the crime.  The juxtaposition of the two characters - Hawthorne (eccentric and multilayered); Horowitz (methodical and detailed) is brilliant.  

EXCELLENT READ!!  It's on my Top Ten for 2018!!! - Brenda

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Once Upon a River: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743298070
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - December 4th, 2018

Diane Setterfield's Once Upon A River is absolutely magical. A tale passed down through the generations, part fairytale, part folklore, entirely intoxicating, I could not put this book down. It's the ancient story of a dark, cold and stormy night -- when a bloodied stranger carrying a small girl stumbles into a pub. The proprietor and guests rally to tend to them, only to find the girl is dead. Or is she? Beautifully written with flowing prose, Setterfield's newest offering will surely stand the test of time. - Brenda

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The Woman in the Window: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062678416
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - January 2nd, 2018

This  thriller features Anna Fox, a prominent psychologist who is suffering from agoraphobia. Separated from her husband and daughter, Anna lives alone in their family brownstone.  Her days are spent spying on her neighbors, binge watching black-and-white movies and drinking copious amounts of wine.  

While watching her new neighbors, Anna sees what she believes to be a murder...of the woman she recognizes as the wife and mother of the family who have just moved into the house next door.  

Police respond and find no evidence of a disturbance, much less a murder.  Is Anna's mind placing tricks or her?  Bound to her house, Anna must find a way to prove what she's seen. Fast-paced and well-written with a number of twists, I loved this book!  - Brenda

Lethal White (A Cormoran Strike Novel) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316422734
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mulholland Books - September 18th, 2018

"Rowling's wizardry as a writer is on fulsome display" (USA Today) in this #1 New York Times bestseller. Lethal White is the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series from the international bestselling author Robert Galbraith.

"I seen a kid killed...He strangled it, up by the horse."

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Force of Nature: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250105639
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - February 6th, 2018

From the author of The Dry, Jane Harper produces her second offering featuring Aaron Falk.Picture a week-end corporate retreat of office colleagues -2 teams (10 employees - men against women). To build teamwork, each group is supplied with backpacks, maps and compass.  Both groups head into the rugged landscape.  Five women head in, four come out. Aaron Falk has a particular interest in the missing woman.  She is a witness in a case he's working...a whistle-blower, in fact, and she knows secrets about the corporation and the people who work there.

Force of Nature is every bit as good as The Dry!  It will be on my Top Ten List this year!!! - Brenda

The Clockmaker's Daughter: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451649390
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - October 9th, 2018


“An ambitious, compelling historical mystery with a fabulous cast of characters…Kate Morton at her very best.” —Kristin Hannah

A love affair and a mysterious murder cast their shadows across generations in this multilayered and spellbinding novel from the New York Times bestselling author of t

Dead If You Don't (Roy Grace #14) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781509816354
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pan Macmillan - July 1st, 2018

Shortly after Kipp Brown and his teenage son, Mungo, arrive at the stadium for their team’s biggest-ever football game, Mungo disappears. A short while later Kipp receives a text with a ransom demand and a warning not to go to the police if he and his wife want to see their son alive again.

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Sirens: A Novel (An Aidan Waits Thriller #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524762889
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - December 4th, 2018

Manchester's underbelly -- drugs, prostitution, bad cops, corrupt politicians -- and Detective Aidan Waits. This debut novel by Knox has it all!  Fast-paced, gritty and  darkly disturbing, I couldn't put it down.  Perfect for Winslow fans!!  - Brenda

A Gentleman's Murder Cover Image
ISBN: 9781942645955
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Inkshares Inc. - April 17th, 2018

Now in development for television with Endeavor Content

"An auspicious debut mystery." --Booklist

"Recalls the best of Golden Age detective fiction." --Andy Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter

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A Killer in King's Cove (Lane Winslow Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781771511988
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Touchwood Editions - October 4th, 2016

It's post WWII and ex-intelligence officer Lane Winslow has left London for greener pastures. She settles in King's Cove, a small village in the heart of British Columbia, Canada.  But, her idyllic existence is soon shattered when a murdered man is discovered on Lane's property; local Police Inspector Darling and his sidekick Sergeant Ames are tasked with solving the crime.

Winslow and the close knit cast of characters give this "first" in the series the feel of a Maisie Dobbs.  I think it's destined to be a favorite here at MBTB. - Brenda

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The Girl in the Ice (Erika Foster series #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538713426
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - April 24th, 2018

The first book in the Detective Erika Foster series finds killings in and around London parks, where women's bodies are being found frozen under ice.  Back on duty after an almost career-ending event, Erika has a lot to prove as she begins to connect the dots...and her superiors dismiss her theory.  The killer is still out there, and he's closing in on Erika. Although Erika is not without her own unique issues, I couldn't help but want the best for her.  I'm definitely looking forward to her next adventure. - Brenda

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A Siege of Bitterns: Birder Murder Mystery 1 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781786074263
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: ONEWorld Publications - February 6th, 2018

Celebrated Canadian Domenic Jejeune, recently arrived to the Norfolk area of England, has newly been appointed to DCI of Saltmarsh.  An avid birder, Dom is more thrilled to be in the heart of Britain's premier birding county than being a detective. When an ecological activist/birder is found murdered, Jejeune's investigative reputation is put to the test.  Can the death be related to a competition involving birdwatching lists? 

I'm a big fan of this series -- and am anxiously awaiting the next installment! - Brenda

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The Cuckoo's Calling (A Cormoran Strike Novel) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780316206853
Availability: Backordered
Published: Mulholland Books - April 29th, 2014

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.