Donna's Staff Picks

Donna Vass, at Murder By The Book since 2023.

Donna has been a preschool teacher, teacher-supply-store manager, and production editor of legal books but now has her dream job being surrounded by mysteries and thrillers. When she's not reading, she's listening to an audiobook and tending her garden or watching the Houston Astros. 

Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Dervla McTiernan, Daniel Silva, Jussi Adler-Olsen, C.J. Box, William Kent Krueger, Jane Harper, and Louise Penny.

Donna's Top Reads of 2023:

The Clementine Complex by Bob Mortimer
The Quiet Tenant by Clémence Michallon
Blood Sisters by Vanessa Lillie
All the Sinners Bleed by S. A. Cosby
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers
August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones
The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose
The Maid by Nita Prose
The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson







The Clementine Complex By Bob Mortimer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668024164
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery/Scout Press - September 5th, 2023

This book is utterly delightful. Gary is an extremely awkward protagonist who finds himself in the middle of an increasingly dangerous situation. He and his elderly neighbor, Grace, try to figure out who they can trust while they attempt to solve the mystery. One of my top books of the year! - Donna

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The Quiet Tenant: A novel By Clémence Michallon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593534649
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - June 20th, 2023

A thriller about a serial killer told by the three women in his life—his daughter, his captive, and his girlfriend. I don’t want to give anything away. Just know that this is a seriously intense page turner!  - Donna

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Blood Sisters By Vanessa Lillie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593550113
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - October 31st, 2023

Syd is a Cherokee archaeologist working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Rhode Island. She’s sent to Oklahoma, to the place she grew up, when a skull is  discovered there, right around the time her sister Emma Lou disappears. While investigating the skull and her sister’s disappearance, Syd uncovers secrets  long hidden and more missing women. Can Syd find her sister before she is silenced by the secret keepers? This was a real page turner for me. - Donna

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All the Sinners Bleed: A Novel By S. A. Cosby Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250831910
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - June 6th, 2023

Titus Crown is the first Black sheriff in Charon County Virginia. As Titus begins an investigation into an awful crime, he uncovers the secrets that lie in the  underbelly of his hometown, including a serial killer who has been hiding in plain sight. This was my first book by this author and I’ve since read two more. I  love his writing and his stories are powerful. - Donna

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I Am Pilgrim: A Thriller By Terry Hayes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439177730
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - December 2nd, 2014

I am quite late to the party on this one. But better late than never. This book was unputdownable. A master spy, codename Pilgrim, gets called back into the  game to catch a dangerous killer. It’s a race against time as he matches wits with a man who has planned his crime for years. - Donna

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All Good People Here: A Novel By Ashley Flowers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593496497
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bantam - December 26th, 2023

I loved this debut novel by Ashley Flowers. Two young neighbor girls are growing up together in small town Wakarusa, Indiana. January Jacobs disappears and is discovered in a ditch hours later. Margot, her childhood friend, grows up, moves away, and becomes a big-city journalist. She returns twenty years later to care for her aging uncle, who has been diagnosed with early- onset dementia, to find that Wakarusa has changed very little in the interim. Then another child goes missing. As Margot investigates the case of the missing girl, she discovers that everyone in town seems to be hiding something. It’s a race against time to find her before she suffers the same fate as January. A definite thriller! - Donna

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August Snow (An August Snow Novel #1) By Stephen Mack Jones Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616958688
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Crime - January 23rd, 2018

A new-to-me author but I got caught right up. I’ve since read all four books in the series. August Snow is a former Detroit police officer who grew up in Mexicantown. He’s the son of an African-American father and a Mexican American mother. He won a wrongful dismissal suit against the city and has returned to the home he grew up in. He’s got some scores to settle and fences to mend. Eleanore Paget, a wealthy businesswoman, asks August to investigate some
curious happenings at her private wealth-management bank. He turns her down. The next day she’s dead of an apparent suicide, but August is highly doubtful about her cause of death. As August investigates the circumstances surrounding her death, he gets sucked into the criminal underbelly in Detroit. The characters in this book and subsequent books in the series are wonderfully written. - Donna

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The Mystery Guest: A Maid Novel (Molly the Maid #2) By Nita Prose Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593356180
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - November 28th, 2023

In the Maid, we meet Molly Gray. Molly is different. She struggles with social skills. Her gran, who raised her, used to help her interpret the world. But her gran has died. Molly has thrown herself into her work as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Her desire for order suits her work as a maid, that is, until she discovers the body of Mr. Black. Her unusual demeanor quickly makes her a prime suspect. In this delightfully told tale, we discover how she proves her
innocence and discovers friends along the way. The Mystery Guest is a continuation of Molly’s story. Everything has been going along swimmingly until world-renowned mystery author J.D. Grimthorpe drops dead on the floor. The clue to his murder lies in Molly’s past and she must uncover it before it’s too late. The characters in these books are so charming and mysteries are well done!  - Donna

The Maid: A Novel (Molly the Maid #1) By Nita Prose Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593356173
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - January 3rd, 2023

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • “A heartwarming mystery with a lovable oddball at its center” (Real Simple), this cozy whodunit introduces a one-of-a-kind heroine who will steal your heart.

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The Square of Sevens: A Novel By Laura Shepherd-Robinson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668031124
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - September 5th, 2023

This story follows the life of a girl known only as Red who grows up with her father learning to tell fortunes by the Square of Sevens. Before he dies, he asks a scholar and gentleman to care for her and gives him the document containing the secret of the Square of Sevens. As she gets older, she searches for information about her long-dead mother. This is a wonderfully written, intriguing tale with a spectacular twist.  - Donna