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 2021 Top Ten:

1. We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker
2. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
3. Left You Dead by Peter James
4. A Line To Kill by Anthony Horowitz
5. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
6. The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson
7. The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
8. The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett
9. The Hostage by Clare Mackintosh
10. The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

Find of the Year:

The William Warwick series by Jeffrey Archer 

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

Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel By Natalie Jenner Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250276698
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - May 17th, 2022

Author of The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner has an new equally charming novel - The Bloomsbury Girls.  Set in 1950 London, Evie, Grace and Vivien are the three women employees of Bloomsbury Books, a hundred-plus-year-old bookstore in the heart of London.  Run by men and currently guided by the general manager’s 51 unbreakable rules, the ladies believe the bookstore should be changing with the times.  

Literary icons of the age - Du Maurier, Doubleday, Blair (widow of Orwell) and Guggenheim are leading the way for women to be taken seriously in their endeavors, and the ladies of the bookstore hang on to their coat tails to forge a way forward with Bloomsbury Books.  

Absolutely delightful - if you loved The Jane Austen Society, you’ll definitely need to pick up a copy of The Bloomsbury Girls.  - Brenda

We Begin at the End By Chris Whitaker Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250759689
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Holt Paperbacks - April 12th, 2022

Once in a blue moon a book comes along that I can’t get out of my mind…such is Chris Whitaker’s We Begin At The End.  

The characters are unforgettable!  Thirteen-year-old Duchess, is parent to both her five-year-old brother, Robin and her mother, Star.  Walk, the local Chief of Police and Star's childhood friend, watches over the dysfunctional family, coming to their rescue frequently.   Walk’s best friend Vincent is being released from prison after serving a 30-year sentence and coming back home to Cape Haven.  But Vincent’s homecoming is anything but welcoming, and when a murder occurs, it will forever change the trajectory of Duchess, Robin and Walk’s lives.

We Begin At The End will haunt your thoughts well after you've read it.  I can’t imagine that it won’t win every 2021 award available, and is certain to be my Top Book of the Year.  My highest recommendation! - Brenda

Nothing Ventured (William Warwick Novels #1) By Jeffrey Archer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250753434
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - September 8th, 2020

Nothing Ventured heralds the start of a brand new series in the style of Jeffrey Archer’s #1 New York Times bestselling Clifton Chronicles: introducing Detective William Warwick. But this is not a detective story, this is a story about the making of a detective . . .

Staff Pick Badge
Ashton Hall: A Novel By Lauren Belfer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593359495
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - June 7th, 2022

Ashton Hall by Lauren Belfer (A Fierce Radiance and City of Light) is the latest in Belfer’s offerings.  Set at Ashton Hall, a beautiful English manor, Hannah Larson and her son Nicky have accepted an invitation to spend the summer with long-time friend, Christopher.  Hannah is going to complete her dissertation for a Ph.D., and the break from routine will give Nicky, Hannah’s neurodiverse son, a chance to roam freely and explore Ashton Hall’s grounds.

But, Nicky discovers something no one else has in over 400 years — a set of rooms hidden in an unused area of the manor — and the skeletal remains of what appear to be a young woman.  Soon researchers, forensic analysts and historians are swarming the area.

Documents, papers, diaries, drawings - all the things found - soon become the focus of the summer.  And, along the way, Hannah becomes enthralled with the history of the women who have come before her.  

For fans of Kate Morton and Diane Setterfield, Belfer’s Ashton Hall is such a visual read — I couldn’t put it down! - Brenda

Staff Pick Badge
Metropolis: A Novel By B. A. Shapiro Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616209582
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - May 17th, 2022

The Metropolis is a large older building that’s been converted to a Self-Storage Facility.  The book opens with an auction of unclaimed unit contents. Follow the stories of six individuals — the owner, receptionist and four abandoned unit customers who all have an interest in what happens at the auction.  Told alternately by each individual, I was fascinated by the characters.   From the author of The Art Forger, don’t miss out on this one.  It’s a perfect summer read! - Brenda

Staff Pick Badge
The Marlow Murder Club: A Novel By Robert Thorogood Cover Image
ISBN: 9781728250519
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Poisoned Pen Press - May 3rd, 2022

Think a spunky Miss Marple…77-year-old Judith Potts lives on the banks of the River Thames.  She’s a crossword puzzle creator, loves jigsaws, crosswords, whiskey and swimming (in the nude) in the River Thames, daily.  One evening, Judith was swimming and heard (coming from a neighbor’s property) a plea, and then a gunshot.  She had witnessed a murder.  

When police are less than willing to share information with Judith, she decides she’ll solve the murder herself.  Aided by a local dog-walker, Suzie, and the vicar’s wife Becks, Judith is unstoppable.  

Delightful!  A perfect easy summer read - witty, well-crafted and fun! - Brenda