Cynthia Kuhn - The Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series

Henery Press, 2017
ebook, hardcover, paperback

The Lila Maclean academic mystery series, in which an assistant professor worried about getting tenure has to deal with murders and other crimes on her campus, consists of three books:

  1. The Semester of Our Discontent
  2. The Art of Vanishing
  3. The Spirit in Question (forthcoming Oct. 2, 2018)

The Semester of Our Discontent Cover

The Semester of Our Discontent

The first book of the series, The Semester of Our Discontent,won the Agatha for best first novel. Lila is chewed out by the chair of her department, Roland Higgins, because in his opinion her research topics are not up to snuff — he doesn’t believe any female author, like the one Lila is studying, has anything to contribute. So it’s almost a pleasure when Lila goes into the conference room a few hours later, ready to attend her first faculty meeting at her new job, and finds Roland stabbed to death:

We arrived at the arched entrance to the department library. The intricately carved wooden door swung open slowly when I pushed on it, though the hinges protested loudly. At the sight of the lifeless form sprawled across the conference table, I shrieked and Judith gasped. One of the fiery dragons on Roland’s elegant tie had been slashed in half by the knife embedded in his chest.

Kuhn, Cynthia. The Semester of Our Discontent (A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Book 1) (p. 9). Henery Press. Kindle Edition.

Lila soon becomes a suspect in his death, as are some of her closest colleagues, including her cousin. The more clues that point to her, the more urgent it is that Lila solve the murders. The solution involves all of the kind of fun elements you would expect from a literary environment: mysterious symbols, secret societies, and of course, departmental politics, not to mention the bright and eager students the academics are there to serve.

The Art of Vanishing Cover

The Art of Vanishing

Lila’s adventures continue in The Art of Vanishing, (Lefty Award Nominee, Best Humorous Mystery). This one is not a murder mystery, but rather a caper, or a double caper. Something has been stolen (actually, a famous author has vanished) and Lila has to find him. In the process she also finds the whereabouts of a precious manuscript.

The whole thing falls on her because the author is notoriously uncommunicative, but he did date her mother, so now her colleagues (and the administration she needs to impress in order to get tenure) see her as the best person to find the missing author:

“Why are you asking her?” Francisco demanded, clearly trying to reinstate his authority as The Damon Expert.

“Because she knows him!” Calista exclaimed. 

Oh, crap. When every head in the room turned in my direction, I straightened up in my chair and smiled. Only because that’s what was expected. What I really wanted to do was summon a handy puff of smoke into which I could disappear from this conversation.

Francisco was staring at me intently. “Think you could have mentioned this before?” My cheeks flamed as I shot Calista a reproving look. “I don’t know him. Not really. We’ve met a few times.”

“How? Where?” I was fixed in Francisco’s burning gaze, with no chance of escape.

Calista answered for me, “Her mother dated him last spring.”

Kuhn, Cynthia. The Art of Vanishing (A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Book 2) (Kindle Locations 381-390). Henery Press. Kindle Edition.

It’s tough to write fiction about academics who are all absorbed with literature, and then to put a “real author” in the middle of all of it. Kuhn has managed to do so and still hit all the mystery high points. It did strike me as  thematically significant to me that it was the author who vanished.

You can find the book here:

The Spirit in Question

Can’t wait to see what Kuhn comes up with next. The wait won’t be long; the third book in the series will be out in October.

About the Author

Cynthia Kuhn Author Photo

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series, which includes The Semester of Our Discontent, an Agatha Award recipient (Best First Novel), and The Art of Vanishing, a Lefty Award nominee (Best Humorous Mystery). The third in the series will be out in fall 2018. She is professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and current president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. For more information, please visit


Find her here:


This blog is part of a tour organized by the International Thriller Writer's Association FEARLESS BLOGGER tour. The Fearless Bloggers were created by Alison McMahan to help new thriller writers who were members of ITW promote their work. Blogs are written about new thrillers by thriller writers. All work is done on a volunteer basis. Other blogs in this tour include: