McKenna's Staff Picks

McKenna Jordan, Store Owner at Murder By The Book since 2003

Having read crime fiction almost exclusively for the last fifteen years at MBTB, this “staff stack” was incredibly challenging to narrow down. I decided to go with an approach of which books represent both my reading taste as well as my history - to this point - with the bookstore. Every one of this holds a special place in my heart and has a story to go along with it. 

I have a real respect for the genre and its icons, and I love unique characters. That’s basically all I can find as a thread of similarity throughout my reading taste. I’m happy to read across the genre as long as it’s well-written, and there’s nothing that beats a fresh new voice that grabs you from the first line. 


McKenna's 2018 Top 10 

1. The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff
2. The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty
3. Sadie by Courtney Summers
4. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
5. The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White
6. The Other Woman by Sadie Jones
7. Auntie Poldie and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
8. Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
9. Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
10. Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott


Staff Pick Badge
The Stranger Diaries Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328577856
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - March 5th, 2019

International Bestseller

"This lively whodunit keeps you guessing until the end."

“Utterly bewitching…As unforgettable as it is original.”A.J.

What Would Maisie Do?: Inspiration from the Pages of Maisie Dobbs Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062859341
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - March 26th, 2019

A one-of-a-kind illustrated companion to the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series, which invites readers into the beloved heroine’s world—and shares her wisdom and inspiration.

Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure #2) Cover Image
By Mario Giordano, John Brownjohn (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781328919021
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - March 5th, 2019

When Auntie Poldi finds a body in a vineyard, she sets out to solve another murder—with the Mafia nipping at her heels—in the next adventure from this national bestselling “smash series.” (People Magazine)
“There’s a new star in the mystery firmament, and her name is Auntie Poldi.” — Alan Bradley 

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure #1) Cover Image
By Mario Giordano, John Brownjohn (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781328588784
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - February 5th, 2019

“Break out the prosecco!

Stick Together (The Awkward Squad #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635060157
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: MacLehose Press - April 2nd, 2019

Officer Anne Capestan and her squad of misfits must turn their attention to a more personal case--the murder of Capestan's ex-husband's father, a lifelong member of the Paris police force who had no shortage of enemies.

Staff Pick Badge
The Awkward Squad Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681440026
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: MacLehose Press - March 5th, 2019

The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff was my favorite book of 2018! It introduces Captain Anne Capestan, recently returned to duty after a suspension by the Paris police for firing her weapon too much. When returning to her superior detective, he explains to her that she is not only welcome back - but she's getting her own squad. Turns out, though, her squad is full of the misfits and quirky officers that have all been sidelined in their various departments. There's Officer Merlot - a drunk, a best-selling crime author (think a female Castle) who wants to return to duty, one officer who has wrecked too many cars, and so on. When they're all assigned a hovel of an office as well as boxes of dead-end cold case files, they decide rather than to do what's expected of them, they'll actually try to do some real police work. And they do... enter a murder or two that still needs solving. I loved all these characters and relished every page of the sequel, Stick Together - out in April. Perfect for fans of quirky French humor or Jussi Adler-Olsen's Department Q series. - McKenna

Staff Pick Badge
A Death of No Importance: A Novel (A Jane Prescott Novel #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250306555
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - March 12th, 2019

“A taut, suspenseful, and complex murder mystery with gorgeous period detail.”—Susan Elia MacNeal

Through her exquisite prose, sharp observation and deft plotting, Mariah Fredericks invites us into the heart of a changing New York in her remarkable debut adult novel, A Death of No Importance.

The Echo Killing: A Mystery (A Harper McClain Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250148858
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - March 12th, 2019

When a murder echoing a fifteen-year-old cold case rocks the Southern town of Savannah, crime reporter Harper McClain risks everything to find the identity of this calculated killer in Christi Daugherty's new novel The Echo Killing.

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The Vanishing Man: A Prequel to the Charles Lenox Series (Charles Lenox Mysteries #12) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250311368
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - February 19th, 2019

This installment of the Charles Lenox series is the second in a planned prequel trilogy. Set in 1853 - three years after The Woman in the Water, this art mystery featuring brilliant, but still unsure of himself, 20-something Lenox is a treat. I had no problem jumping in and reading this one, having missed the last few, and while I'm always a fan of reading in order, this is a delightful, smart historical mystery that should appeal to fans of Lord Peter Wimsey and traditional Sherlockian deduction. A Beautiful Blue Death, Finch's first published mystery has always been a popular read, and now new readers can start with the newly-released paperback edition (and first prequel) The Woman in the Water, or dive right in with this one. Highly recommended! - McKenna

Staff Pick Badge
Death in Provence: A Novel (Penelope Kite #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062869852
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - February 19th, 2019

British divorcee Penelope Kite decides to get away from it all and retire to the south of France, where she finds Le Chant d’Eau— The Song of Water—a stone farmhouse with a garden, swimming pool, and sweeping mountain vistas. She falls in love with the property and decides, with the help of a local realtor, to make an offer despite the property's title being tied up in something fishy. When she finds out the house is hers, she relocates quickly, eager to renovate and create her little slice of heaven. But when she finds a body floating in her swimming pool on her first morning, she knows she might be involved in something tricky. Fortunately, as a former staff member for a forensic pathologist, Penelope is no stranger to crime, and sets out to help the police in any way she can.... Perfect for fans of Peter Mayle, this mystery full of small-town politics, an evocative Provencal setting, and vibrant characters was an absolute bonbon of a first novel. I'm so happy to know this is the first in a new series  - I can't wait to read the next installment! - McKenna

Staff Pick Badge
The Widows: A Novel (The Kinship Series #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250184528
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - January 8th, 2019

Welcome to the 1925 Appalachian mining town of Kinship, Ohio, where a recent coal mine, "The Widowmaker," has caved in destroying many families. The popular town sheriff, Daniel Ross, has his hands full with miners being jailed, Pinkertons being hired by the mine owners and overall high tensions. Fortunately, he has his wife Lily working with him as the jail mistress. When Daniel goes on a trip to help retrieve a prisoner, and is killed, Lily, widowed, distraught, and acting as interim sheriff, starts her journey to find out what happened. After Daniel's funeral, she meets Marvena, a tough woman who also had a very close relationship with Daniel, and it becomes apparent that the two are going to have to work together to bring about justice. This is a remarkable historical mystery debut that will have you wiping coal dust off your face while reading it. I loved Marvena and Lily - both remarkable women - and I hope you will too! Highly recommended! - McKenna