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 2019 Top 10 Cozy Mysteries:

1. A Cup of Holiday Fear by Ellie Alexander
2. Coached to Death by Victoria Laurie
3. Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins
4. And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder
5. Death in a Budapest Butterfly by Julia Buckley
6. The Calamity Cafe by Gayle Leeson
7. Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien
8. The Loch Ness Papers by Paige Shelton
9. Against the Claw by Shari Randall
10. Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey

Non-Cozy Top 3:

The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Swipe Right For Murder by Derek Milman

Cold Iron Heart: A Wicked Lovely Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781087871134
Availability: Special Order
Published: Indy Pub - April 3rd, 2020

In this prequel to the international bestselling WICKED LOVELY series, the Faery Courts collide a century before the mortals in Wicked Lovely are born.

Cold Iron Heart: A Wicked Lovely Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781087872117
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Indy Pub - April 3rd, 2020

In this prequel to the international bestselling WICKED LOVELY series, the Faery Courts collide a century before the mortals in Wicked Lovely are born.

Wolf's Bane Cover Image
ISBN: 9781989046067
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Kla Fricke Inc - October 15th, 2019

Summer camp is a traditional teenage rite of passage, but when you add supernatural powers to the typically high dosage of adolescent hormones - you get an even more combustible mix. Sixteen-year-old werewolf twins Kate and Logan Danvers are none too thrilled at being shipped off to a supernatural youth leadership conference in West Virginia.

Wolf's Curse Cover Image
ISBN: 9781989046166
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Kla Fricke Inc - March 31st, 2020

For Kate and Logan Danvers, sixteen-year-old twins of the werewolf Alpha, nothing could ruin a summer faster than the words "supernatural teen leadership conference." They expected a boring week of earnest political discussions and team-building exercises.

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The House in the Cerulean Sea Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250217288
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - March 17th, 2020

Linus is good at his job as a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth because he's able to remain objective and detached. That all changes when he's given a secret task to check out an orphanage unlike any he's seen before. Each of the magical children in the orphanage is unique, dangerous, and immediately lovable. For Linus, it's like the moment Dorothy leaves her sepia world behind and takes that first colorful step into Oz. While The House in the Cerulean Sea feels like a quiet little book it speaks so loudly of understanding, love, and found family. You'll want to hug it to your chest and carry it with you. And you will carry it with you, because each tender moment in this book will leave its mark on your heart. - John

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Firewatching (A Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler Novel #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525542025
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - February 25th, 2020

In a genre that really loves the "bury your gays" trope, Firewatching by Russ Thomas is a breath of fresh air. DS Adam Tyler works cold cases and keeps his head down, until he finds himself working on a high profile murder case. While working the case, Tyler realizes the victim's son is the same guy he went home with the night before. Tyler teams up with Amina Rabbani, and young Muslim officer hoping to make detective. Firewatching does a great job of showing Tyler and Rabbani trying to navigate the police force while also being oustsiders. With a fantastic cast of characters and an intricate plot, Firewatching is destined to be the first in a great series from Thomas. - John

Russ Thomas signs at MBTB on Wednesday, March 3rd with John McMahon.

Staff Pick Badge
The Woman in the Mirror: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250230058
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - March 17th, 2020

The first time Alice got lost in the fog outside of Winterbourne, I knew I was going to LOVE The Woman In the Mirror. It's been really great to see authors like Elly Griffiths and Ruth Ware embracing Gothic fiction and putting a modern spin on it. What I loved the most about The Woman in the Mirror was that James wasn't trying to put a modern spin on a gothic novel. She just fully embraced the genre and ran with it. Creepy twins, an overbearingly beautiful house, an old curse, and family secrets? Sign me up! - John

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A Beautiful Crime: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062853882
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - January 28th, 2020

Nick is leaving New York to meet his boyfriend Clay in Venice. Their plan? To con Clay's neighbor into buying some counterfeit silver and riding off into the sunset. Bollen perfectly captures the feeling of Venice for the first time, and immediately falling under the spell of the city. Experiencing the city through Nick's eyes was a joy, and reminded me so much of my first time in Venice. It also made me want to immediately plan a trip back. Christopher Bollen has beautifully blended literary fiction with the crime novel. John Boyne fans will find a lot to love here. - John

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Murder Once Removed (Ancestry Detective #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250189035
Availability: Able to Backorder
Published: Minotaur Books - March 19th, 2019

In Murder Once Removed, S.C. Perkins makes Austin come alive. Lucy Lancaster is looking into Gus Halloran's family history, and discovers one of his ancestors was murdered. Gus is an over-the-top Texan, but in Perkins's hands he's not a caricature. Lucy's discovery stirs up past resentments and leads to another murder. To solve the new murder, she's got to solve the one from 1849. By the time you finish, you'll want to hit up Lucy's favorite restaurant for a margarita. A dynamic secondary cast rounds out this great read. - John

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My Lovely Wife Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451491732
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - March 3rd, 2020

What a fun and twisted read! What started as an accident has become a game for a husband and wife. Together they stalk and kill young women. At least that's what the husband thinks. Downing has fun playing with many of the tropes we've come to expect in domestic suspense, and she twists them in the most delightful way. I was hooked by this one from the start and didn't want to put it down until I knew every twist and turn. - John

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Watch the Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9781478974239
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - June 4th, 2019

Liv Hendricks quit acting after her sister went missing. Her second chance at an acting career fails spectacularly so she ends up crowdfunding her own investigative web series. Her first case? Solving the disappearances of four woman who went missing outside a town known for the cult horror movies filmed there. My best friend recommended this one to me, and I had to keep texting him at each twist and turn because I was having so much fun with it. Watch the Girls is PERFECT for Riley Sager fans. - John