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 2022 Top 10:

1. Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen
2. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
3. Truly Devious Series by Maureen Johnson
4. The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray
5. Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
6. Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston
7. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
8. Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian
9. The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope
10. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Favorite Cozies:

Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder by Valerie Burns
Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Bryon
Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian
A Streetcar Named Murder by T.G. Herren
Renovated to Death by Frank Anthony Polito
Six Feet Deep Dish by Mindy Quigley
Last But Not Leashed by Ellen Brady
A Death in Door Country by Annelise Ryan
A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bisonnette
Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry

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

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A Likely Story: A Novel By Leigh McMullan Abramson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982199241
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - March 14th, 2023

Isabelle Manning's father is a literary icon, and she's desperate to follow in his footsteps. A stalled career, the death of her mother, and a mysterious manuscript change everything she knows.

It's not a whodunnit, but the tension in this literary page-turner is real! - John

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Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) By Leigh Bardugo Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250751362
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - October 20th, 2020

Lethe House monitors the secret societies at Yale, so why is Alex being told to drop a case when a woman with ties to multiple societies is murdered? This is SO GOOD! - John 

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Under Lock & Skeleton Key: A Secret Staircase Mystery (Secret Staircase Mysteries #1) By Gigi Pandian Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250805003
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - February 21st, 2023

A love letter to classic locked room and impossible crime mysteries! - John 

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Pandora: A Novel By Susan Stokes-Chapman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063280021
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - January 17th, 2023

A great art/antiquities read, featuring a young jewelry maker whose uncle is acting strange after finding a mysterious Greek vase. - John 

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Where Are the Children? By Mary Higgins Clark Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982187934
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pocket Books - February 21st, 2023

If you love Lisa Jewell and other contemporary psychological suspense, but haven't read this classic you must fix that right now!

I bought a copy of this at a used bookstore on vacation and inhaled it that night in my hotel room. - John 

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Where Are the Children Now? By Mary Higgins Clark, Alafair Burke Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982189419
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 18th, 2023

A fantastic follow-up to a classic! - John 

The London Séance Society By Sarah Penner Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778387114
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Park Row - March 7th, 2023


From the author of the sensational bestseller The Lost Apothecary comes a spellbinding tale about two daring women who hunt for truth and justice in the perilous art of conjuring the dead.

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The Golden Spoon: A Novel By Jessa Maxwell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668008003
Availability: Able to Backorder
Published: Atria Books - March 7th, 2023

“This delicious combination of Clue and The Great British Bake Off kept me turning the pages all night!” —Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Only Murders in the Building meets The Maid in this darkly beguiling locked-room mystery where someone turns up dead on the set of TV’s hottes

Play the Fool: A Mystery By Lina Chern Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593500668
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bantam - March 28th, 2023

A cynical tarot card reader seeks to uncover the truth about her friend’s mysterious death in this delightfully clever whodunit, “a delicious blend of suspense and madcap humor” (Library Journal, starred review).