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.

Book of Night 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

The Agathas (An Agathas Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593431115
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Delacorte Press - May 3rd, 2022

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Who killed Brooke Donovan? It’s the biggest mystery of the summer, and everyone in Castle Cove thinks it’s the wrong guy. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and Riverdale can’t miss this page-turning who-done-it that’s sure to be the next must read Young Adult thriller!

The Murder of Mr. Wickham 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) 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) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780515142808
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
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 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.