John's Staff Picks

John McDougall, Event Coordinator at Murder By The Book since 2010

I love watching the parts of a mystery fall into place, but I think what really pulls me in is the characters. Cozies are so fun because you get to know these small towns and wish you could visit. Reading about Lady Emily in Tasha Alexander's books is like getting to catch up with an old friend. I want characters that break your heart like Marc Rochat in The Watchers, or make you laugh like Victoria Laurie and Mary Kay Andrews's characters always do. I love picking up a book like City of Dark Magic and thinking, ‘These things shouldn't really fit together, but they totally do.’ You can't help but want to hang on for the ride.

For additional cozy mystery recommendations, check out John's Cozy Corner.


John's Top Reads of 2023:
(In reading order because I couldn't rank them)

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
The Villa by Rachel Hawkins 
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
Your Lonely Nights Are Over by Adam Sass
Murder in Postscript by Mary Winters
The Only One Left by Riley Sager
Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
The Paris Mystery by Kirsty Manning
Glory Be by Danielle Arceneaux

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

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You'd Look Better as a Ghost: A Novel By Joanna Wallace Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143136170
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - March 26th, 2024

A hilarious black comedy perfect for fans of My Sister, The Serial Killer and the Maud books by Helen Tursten. I giggled my way through this. - John

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The Excitements: A Novel By CJ Wray Cover Image
By CJ Wray
ISBN: 9780063337480
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - January 30th, 2024

The perfect blend of the Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal and Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn!

Penny and Josephine have lived their lives with the philosophy of toujours gai (always cheerful). Now in their 90s, the sisters are heading to Paris with their great-nephew to receive the Légion d’honneur for their work during WWII, and maybe settle some old scores. I adored this one! - John

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Lady Charlotte Always Gets Her Man By Violet Marsh Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538739693
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Forever - March 5th, 2024

Charlotte's parents are forcing her to marry a man who lost his previous wives in "accidents." Now she's teaming up with his brother to prove he murdered them, and get our of the engagement. A really fun start to a new series, which equal amounts of mystery and romance! - John 

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The Wishing Game: A Novel By Meg Shaffer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593598856
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - March 26th, 2024

Years ago, a reclusive mega-bestselling children’s author quit writing under mysterious circumstances. Suddenly he resurfaces with a brand-new book and a one-of-a-kind competition, offering a prize that will change the winner’s life in this absorbing and whimsical novel.

This is one of my favorite things I've read in 2023 so far!  It's a love letter to the books we found as young readers, and how the lessons they taught can still help us today. I can't recommend it highly enough! - John 

A Most Agreeable Murder: A Novel By Julia Seales Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593450000
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - April 30th, 2024

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “A delightful cocktail that mixes elements of the Bridgerton series, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries . . . The payoff is a wealth of wit, hilarity and suspense.”—People (Book of the Week)

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The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers: A novel By Samuel Burr Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593470091
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Doubleday - April 9th, 2024

An extraordinary, gloriously uplifting novel about the power of friendship and the puzzling ties that bind us

The Familiar: A Novel By Leigh Bardugo Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250884251
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - April 9th, 2024

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo comes a spellbinding novel set in the Spanish Golden Age.

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2024 by The Washington Post, NPR, Goodreads, LitHub, The Nerd Daily, Paste Magazine,, and so much more!