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 2018 Top 10:
1. Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro
2. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
3. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyikan Braitwaite
4. A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne
5. The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews
6. Death By Dumpling by Vivien Chien
7. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
8. The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
9. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
10. The Italian Party by Christina Lynch
Find of the year - The Bakeshop Mysteries by Ellie Alexander
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
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
The third in a tasty series, Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien is a delight!
Everyone agrees that the food at Ho-Lee Noodle House is delicious—unless it happens to be deadly.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Always and Blackberry Winter, a heartbroken woman stumbles upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.
The Italian Party is the story of two newlyweds navigating a new world. As Michael and Scottie start their life together in Sienna, they find themselves isolated. From family, friends, their own culture, and each other. Both have their secrets, and they're trying to keep them while learning to navigate life as a couple, and life in a new country. With Lynch's intimate sense of place I couldn't tell which was more delicious, the pasta or the secrets! Now available in paperback, this was one of my favorite reads of 2018! - John
Margo Channing isn't your stereotypical bored socialite. Oh she's bored, and she's got more money than she knows what to do with, but she's also a cat burglar with a crew of kick boxing drag queens pulling jewel heists all over LA. Socialites, drag queens, and jewel heists? What's not to love?! Roehrig wrote some of my favorite thrillers of 2018, and now he's written the most fun heist novel of 2019! - John (also HIGHLY recommended by Rebecca)
Like A Love Story broke me and fixed me at the same time. Set in NYC in 1989, it chronicles the lives of three teens as they navigate the AIDS crisis. Nazemian captures perfectly what it felt like to be both excited and repelled by the thought of finding another gay kid to share experiences with, as well as the constant fear of wondering if AIDS was inevitable for all young gay men. He also nailed the joy of discovering your first diva, and realizing it was about so much more than the music. I finished Like A Love Story with tears streaming down my face. They were tears of recognition, of seeing myself so accurately reflected on the pages of a book.
What a fantastic thriller! A year after a serial killer traumatized a small town, a young man starts asking questions, trying to find out what really happened to his friend. Tom Ryan's Keep This To Yourself felt like an updated Christopher Pike or Lois Duncan thriller. It was one of the best plotted thrillers I've read in a while, and I did not see the twist coming! I inhaled this one. - John
I am obsessed with Derek Milman's queer take on North by Northwest. From the book starting with a Grindr hookup going horribly wrong to the Drag Race quoting villain that you also sort of root for, I love how unapologetically queer SWIPE RIGHT FOR MURDER is. Milman's fast-paced thriller mixes LGBT history with a little bit of a revenge fantasy. He keeps the reader guessing along with Aidan as he tries to figure out which side is the right one. - John