Cindy's Staff Picks

Cindy Burnett at Murder By The Book since 2018

My reading tastes span a wide range of genres: mysteries, historical fiction, literary fiction, memoirs, and engaging non-fiction. I love almost anything related to art, France, New York City, Golden Age Hollywood, the Gilded Age, Texas and World War 2. I enjoy C.J. Box’s mysteries because I always learn something fascinating about the environment or a current political issue, and I love Fiona Davis’s novels because she explores in-depth places like Grand Central Terminal and the Dakota. I will read anything written by Jacqueline Winspear, Susan Elia McNeal, Martin Walker, Michael Connelly, Kate Morton, and Elly Griffiths. They all create incredibly well-written, engaging stories.

Some of my recent non-mystery favorites have been News of the World, A Gentleman in Moscow, How to Walk Away, and Dear Fahrenheit 451. I even have a few books that I return to again and again: both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen and Robert Frost’s The Road Less Taken.

Cindy's 2018 Top 10

1. The Echo Killing by Christi Daughtery
2. Force of Nature by Jane Harper
3. Past Tense by Lee Child
4. The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
5. Still Lives by Maria Hummel 
6. The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
7. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
8. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
9. Liar’s Candle by Thomas August
10. The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis


Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Staff Pick Logo
The Silent Patient Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250301697
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Celadon Books - February 5th, 2019

The Silent Patient is the best psychological thriller that I have read in ages.  As the book opens, Alicia Berenson, a well-known painter, has been in a psychiatric facility for six years following her gruesome murder of her husband.  She has not spoken since the crime occurred, refusing to provide an explanation for why she murdered him.  Her refusal to speak has caused the public to become fascinated with the crime and her motive, and the price of her art has skyrocketed.  Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, seeks to work with Alicia; he is determined to find out her motives and get her speaking again.  

The story alternates between Theo’s perspective and Alicia’s diary entries from before the crime occurred. There are several fabulous twists and turns, and the ending is simply stunning.  I certainly did not see it coming which made for a fantastic read. The Silent Patient is a page turner, and you will not want to put it down once you start reading.  I highly, highly recommend it. - Cindy

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The Only Woman in the Room Cover Image
ISBN: 9781492666868
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark - January 8th, 2019

The Only Woman in the Room chronicles the long and accomplished life of Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Keisler), the Hollywood screen star from the 1940s and 1950s. Unable to forget the horrors she witnessed in Austria, she recruits a partner (George Antheil), and they quietly begin work on an invention that she hopes will help the United States win the war against Germany.  While the U.S. Navy did not adopt their invention until the 1960’s, their invention eventually led to the creation of Bluetooth and ultimately WiFi and the cell phone. Marie Benedict breathes heart and depth into Lamarr’s long and storied life.  Benedict’s decision to tell the story from Hedy’s perspective was genius, and the book’s pacing is perfect.  I am thrilled Benedict chose to make sure Lamarr’s legacy is not forgotten. - Cindy

Out of the Dark: An Orphan X Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250120427
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - January 29th, 2019

Out of the Dark is the fourth book in the Orphan X series and my favorite since the first in the series. I loved the first book and its balance between the Orphan Program aspects of the story and Evan’s constant urge to atone for his past. Out of the Dark achieves the same balance, and both of his cases in this book are highly entertaining and race along to the fabulous and highly satisfying ending. I particularly enjoyed learning about the multitude of ways the U.S. president is protected, from the outfitting of his limousine to the way his food is chosen, and the thousands of people who work daily to ensure that the person who holds that job is safe. Out of the Dark is a fun, highly-entertaining read, and I look forward to more Evan Smoak adventures. - Cindy 

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The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062674951
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - December 31st, 2018

While The Gown is a heartfelt tale about the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown, it is also ultimately the story of three women who strive to find their place in the world and how each deals with love, loss, and family.  The book is told in a dual timeline format with Miriam’s and Ann’s stories taking place in 1947, and Heather’s in 2016. 

The book is a fascinating and beautiful tale which touches briefly on then Princess Elizabeth and her family but mainly details the creation of the wedding gown and the despondency of London following the end of World War 2.  It is a true page turner, and I finished it in under 24 hours.  Robson exhaustively researched the time period resulting in a descriptive and compelling tale of courage and triumph in the face of horrible shortages and grim weather conditions.  I was surprised to learn that the end of the war was not the end of wartime rationing in London and how harsh living conditions were for London residents long after the war had ended.

I highly recommend The Gown. As only wonderfully written historical fiction can do, The Gown transports the reader to war-torn London and allows the reader a glimpse into a bygone era. - Cindy

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Learning to See: A Novel of Dorothea Lange, the Woman Who Revealed the Real America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062686534
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - January 22nd, 2019

Learning to See tells the story of Dorothea Lange’s extraordinary life and her efforts to expose severe social injustices during the 1930s and 1940s. Appalled by the poverty resulting from the Great Depression, she began to travel around California capturing images of the Dust Bowl migrants transforming herself into an advocate and activist for the poor.  After World War 2 began, Lange focused on the Japanese American internment camps exposing the horrific conditions under which these poor people were placed.

Dorothea Lange’s photographs from the Great Depression era and the Japanese American internment camps are iconic and part of the fabric of our culture.  Hooper’s novel brings the woman behind those photos to life including the sacrifices she made personally to bring about social change for those less fortunate.  I loved that Hooper includes some of Lange’s photographs at the end of the book. While I was familiar with some of them, there were several I had never seen before, and it was enthralling to pore over the photos and Hooper’s caption for each photo.  

The structure of the book is fabulous – Hooper begins in 1964 as Lange has received a letter from MoMA about launching a retrospective of her work and then travels back in time to tell Lange’s tale.  I cannot say enough good things about Learning to See; Elise Hooper has written a book that every American should read about an important person and era in the history of the United States. - Cindy