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 2021 Top 10:

  1. The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman
  2. Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
  3. Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchison
  4. Tomb of the Queen by Joss Walker
  5. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
  6. Rhode Island Red by Charlotte Carter (This series was my favorite discovery of the year)
  7. A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins
  8. Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper
  9. Her Dark Lies by JT Ellison
  10. Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Favorite Cozies:
Murder at the Beacon Bakeshop by Darci Hannah
Poppy Harmon and the Pillow Talk Killer by Lee Hollis
Death in Castle Dark by Veronica Bond

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

Staff Pick Badge
The Hacienda By Isabel Cañas Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593436691
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - May 3rd, 2022

Beatriz thinks her marriage to Rololfo will change her life, and she sees The Hacienda as her ticket to freedom. Instead, she finds servants with old resentments and secrets, and a house with an agenda of its own. After a few terrifying nights, she reaches out to a local priest to help rid the house of the evil she feels, and help her find out what happened to Rodolfo's first wife.

Set just after the Mexican War of Independence, The Hacienda is Rebecca if Manderley was ANGRY. The Hacienda is a tense, spooky read perfect for fans of Simone St. James's earlier historical ghost stories. I could not put it down! This will definitely be on my 2022 Top 10 list! - John

Miss Aldridge Regrets (A Canary Club Mystery #1) By Louise Hare Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593439258
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - July 5th, 2022

"Would make Agatha Christie proud... Irresistible and smart."
—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace

Named A Most Anticipated Mystery of Summer by Betches, Essence, Crime Reads and more!

The glittering RMS Queen Mary. A nightclub singer on the run. An aristocratic family with secrets worth killing for.

Pre-Order Now Badge
Lavender House By Lev AC Rosen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250834225
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Forge Books - October 18th, 2022

Andy Mills has gone from being fired from the police force for being gay to investigating a murder at Lavender House, a mansion where its gay residents can live openly behind its walls.

Used to quick interactions in seedy bars, Andy has never seen what gay life can be in the light. But someone in the house has killed Irene, the head of the famous Lamontaine soap company. Can Andy uncover the truth and sort through all of the family secrets? 

Lavender House takes all of the family drama and suspense of Knives Out and puts a noir and gay twist on it. Rosen has put in his queer spin on the PI novel in a way that reminded me of Joseph Hansen's groundbreaking Dave Brandstetter novels. - John

Book of Night By Holly Black Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250812193
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - May 3rd, 2022

"A delicious, dark, adrenaline rush of a book. I'm already dying to see Charlie Hall's next con." - New York Times bestselling author, Alix E. Harrow

Staff Pick Badge
The Agathas (An Agathas Mystery #1) By Kathleen Glasgow, Liz Lawson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593431115
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 3rd, 2022

Last summer, Alice disappeared for five days after learning her ex-boyfriend Steve was now with her best friend, Brooke. Now Brooke's missing after a fight with Steve. Is Brooke just copying Alice, or is something more sinister happening? To find out, Alice teams up with Iris, her tutor. And Iris could really use the reward money Brooke's grandmother is offering.

Alice is huge Agatha Christie fan, and each chapter starts with an epigraph from a Christie novel, and Alice takes her investigative cues from Poirot. It's the perfect blend of Agatha Christie and Veronica Mars! - John 

The Murder of Mr. Wickham By Claudia Gray Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593313817
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - May 3rd, 2022

Emma is hosting a summer house party, and all of Jane Austen's characters are invited. Well, except Mr. Wickham. That doesn't stop him from the crashing the party and causing all kinds of trouble. Everyone is a suspect when he's found murdered, but the youngest members of the party (Juliet Tilney and Jonathan Darcy) decide they're going to work together to solve the crime.

This was an absolute delight. It was like getting to play of game of Clue with all of Austen's characters, and it reads like an Austen novel. I really can't recommend this one enough! - John 

Renovated to Death (A Domestic Partners in Crime Mystery #1) By Frank Anthony Polito Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496735584
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Kensington - May 31st, 2022

It’s Hart to Hart via HGTV in award-winning author and playwright Frank Anthony Polito’s fabulous new cozy mystery series featuring a gay couple who solve crimes while renovating houses in suburban Detroit as part of their hit reality show Domestic Partners.

Second Sight (An Arcane Society Novel #1) By Amanda Quick Cover Image
ISBN: 9780515142808
Availability: Able to Backorder
Published: Berkley - March 27th, 2007

New York Times bestselling author Amanda Quick invites you to experience a thrilling adventure filled with the lure of ancient secrets and the simmering passions of the Victorian age in the first Arcane Society novel.

Last Call at the Nightingale: A Mystery By Katharine Schellman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250831828
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - June 7th, 2022

First in a captivating Jazz age mystery series from author Katharine Schellman, Last Call at the Nightingale beckons readers into a darkly glamorous speakeasy where music, liquor, and secrets flow.