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Cynthia Kuhn Books In Order

Publication Order of Lila Maclean Mystery Books

The Semester of Our Discontent (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Art of Vanishing (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Cynthia Kuhn is American author of fiction, mystery and literary books best known for her book series, Lila Maclean Academic Mystery which includes Semester of Our Discontent the first book in Lila Maclean Mysteries which won the author an Agatha Award. The series second book was a finalist in the Lefty Awards. Cynthia’s work has been featured in Copper Nickel, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Mama Ph.D., Prick of the Spindle and other publications. She is a teacher in Denver and is also the president of Sisters in Crime – Colorado.

The Semester of Our Discontent

The Semester of Our Discontent is the first book in Lila Maclean Mystery series by Cynthia Kuhn. The story introduces the reader to a character named Lila Maclean. She is an English professor and is happy about her new job at a reputable Stonedale University until the day she finds one of her colleague dead.
She soon discovers that everyone, right from the chancellor to the investigator working on the case is responsible for the horrific even and so she assigns herself to the quest of finding the killer.

Not long, more attacks on lecturers follow and the possible connection is a curious emblem found at each of the murder scenes. Lila puts her academic skills to the test and gathers the possible evidence. However, her search is put to a halt by an unexpected adversary, a suspicious detective, and a sinister secret society. Instead of earning a good grade say “A” for the efforts, she gets threats featuring the strange emblem and therefore she must act quickly to avoid falling on her next assignment or becoming the next victim.

The first book in Lila Maclean Mystery series is a wonderful read. This is one of the cozy mysteries that has the main character sticking and adhering to who they are and doing their sleuthing activities with their own skills and knowledge. The writing is super done, and the author vividly describes murder scenes and other scenes so that the readers can visualize everything. The mystery part of the book is quite intriguing, and for the most of the story, it is fast-paced. The story is narrated from the first-person perspective from the point of view of Professor Lila. Therefore the readers get a better understanding and a deep connection with the main character.

Additionally, the supporting characters are well woven, easy to connect with, some are likable but others you’ll love to hate them.

The main character is Professor Maclean, an assistant English professor at Stonedale University located southwest of Denver Colorado. For such a professional career for the main character, the readers should expect to get to know a character that is responsible and intelligent and thankfully that is what Cynthia Kuhn has produced.

The story takes place over an entire semester, and so the first murder takes quite a while for it to be solved, but it’s not because the police department was incompetent but because the guilty party was so much concealed. The story is filled with plenty of behind the scene rivalries, departmental political maneuverings, and jealousies that take place in many workplaces and not just within the academics field. Lila the main character is brave, she is also reasonable, level-headed, practical, and not prone to throwing herself into dubious situations from which she regularly needs to be rescued. She is a woman who knows her limitations and does not hesitate to seek help from others or even listen to advice from others.

The Art of Vanishing

In the second book in Lila Maclean Academic Mystery, we again meet Lila Maclean first introduced in the series debut novel, The Semester of Our Discontent. Now she is sent to interview a prominent author Damon Von Tussel who disappears before her own eyes.

The English department is subsequently thrown into chaos by the news of Damon’s disappearance as Damon is supposed to head Stonedale’s upcoming Arts Week.

The university chair makes it clear that he expects Professor Lila to locate Damon and set the events back on track as soon as possible. However someone seems to have a diverging plan in mind as strange notices are received, valuable items are then stolen, and a series of bad events threaten the lives of Stonedale University guests. After her mother who is also Damon’s ex-girlfriend rushes onto the university and straight into harm’s way, Lila has even a more solid evidence to bring the suspect to justice before anything or even anyone else disappears in the thin air.

Cynthia Kuhn has done it again, the second novel in Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series is as good as the first one. The book emphasizes on the pressure placed upon assistant professors to publish, achieve tenure and even receive high administrative approval. The primary focus in The Art of Publishing is, however, the mystery itself which sprouts into multiple mysteries. The thematic elements in the story are great while the characters are well developed and interesting as well.

Like in the series debut novel, Lila is again a relatable main character. You will be able to connect with her from the very beginning. Again, the secondary characters are well developed and have unique and distinct personality traits. You will love how Cynthia Kuhn included Lila’s mother and thus made their dynamic quite entertaining. Apart from the main mystery, there are some behind the scenes that give a detailed look into politics of academia. There are some bits of romance scenes that are also beautifully done and don’t interfere with the main mystery at all and keep the readers hooked without unnecessary drama.

The plot is intricately woven, full of twists and turns that will keep the readers guessing who the culprit is right from the first page to the last. As a reader, you’ll get a glimpse of how a university works from the inside and the admin completely ignore a few bugging emails even if they start experiencing a few situations that no one knows about.

Overall, The Art of Vanishing is a quick read with some bits of mystery and an excellent description of how the life is at the university. You will discover a couple of good friends, a curious mother and some bits of love.’

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