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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 5 star ratings
3 reviews

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3.8 out of 5
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Higher Education Can be Deadly

    I really enjoyed this first book in this series. Lila is new to the Stonedale Campus but she keeps finding dead bodies. Her cousin is in jail for the crimes so she sets out to solve the murders. Lila is a literature professor so there is a lot of academic lit background. The author knows this background well and she does a good job describing the campus and the faculty. The mystery is really good and I was surprised by the killer. I am really looking forword to reading the next book in this series and I cannot wait to see what Lila is up to next. Enjoy this new cozy series. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review
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    First book in new series!

    The Semester of our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn is the first book in the new Lila Maclean Mystery series. Lila Maclean is a new assistant professor at Stonedale University in Stonedale, Colorado. Lila just graduated from NYU the previous spring. Lila is going to a faculty meeting with her faculty mentor, Judith Westerly. They enter the conference room to find Roland Higgins dead on the table! He was stabbed with a knife with a pattern on it. Roland Higgins was not well liked (he was pompous, egotistical, rude, and down on women) so the suspect list is long. However, Detective Lexington Archer (Stonedale Police Department) seems to have narrowed it down to Calista James, Lila’s cousin (Lila’s mom raised both girls). The knife (decorative) belonged to Calista. Then Judith Westerly, English professor and Lila’s faculty mentor, is attacked with a book (a very big and heavy book). The book has the same decorative pattern as the knife. The police find the pattern on Calista’s computer and she is arrested. Lila knows Calista did not commit the murder (or attack Judith) and sets out to prove her innocence. Someone, though, does not like her poking around. Lila’s office is trashed and then bookshelves are sent tumbling down upon her in the library. The killer means business. Then Eldon Higgins (Roland’s brother and has the same attitude problems) is murdered (and Calista has a great alibi). Can the killer be apprehended before more people are murdered? The Semester of our Discontent was not as good as I was hoping it would be. The book contained too much about academic life. Professors have to publish or perish which was repeated a few times in the novel. It also discusses the politics of academia which dominated the book. The murder occurred in the first chapter (within the first few pages) of the book which was too early. There was really no lead in to it and then we have the whole novel to get through as the main character tries to find the killer. I thought the killer was extremely obvious. I knew the identity of the killer when the body was discovered. The writer did try to distract the reader and lead them down the wrong path with different theories. The Semester of our Discontent contains many literary references and quotes (from classic literature). I think the book was a little overdone (with the academic life and literary references). The average reader might not enjoy all the references to classic books. I give The Semester of our Discontent 3 out of 5 stars. I think the series has potential. I will be interested to read the next book in the Lila Maclean Mystery series to see if there is improvement. I received a complimentary copy of The Semester of our Discontent from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.
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    Full of Quirky Fun To Read Characters

    Lila is learning the hard way way that being a junior professor at an exclusive college isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Her department head is an elitist misogynist. Academic politics are more politics than academia, and, oh yeah, someone is attacking professors at the college with items emblazoned with the symbol of secret society that, of course, no one will talk about. When Lila’s fellow professor, and cousin, is accused of the crimes, Lila sets out to find out who the real culprit is. Of course now the police think she knows more than she does and her boss has indicated that being the first to come across a dead body, is not really behavior appropriate to someone who wishes to gain tenure at some point down the road. I mean really, who does that? Okay so this was a great novel. I dearly loved reading about the staff discussing their pet authors. The setting was fantastic and the insight into the life of the average college professor was profound. The characters, even the unlikable ones, were quirky and fun to read. One has to wonder though why it took so long for someone to do something about the department head, (okay not really, but he was insufferable). The dialogue was witty and the relationships between characters was fun to unravel. I loved that it had a feminist slant without becoming feminazi. It was a fast easy read that was quite enjoyable. This story is a mystery and Lila is a pretty good sleuth, but I have to admit that this mystery had a Poe-like finish. Though I was beginning to suspect the actual killer, it was only because this person seemed to be written as a more important character than made sense in the story. I read it twice (just as good the second time around) and I still don’t see how the clues tied together to end up at that person. Plus lets face it, This “secret” society wasn’t really worth going to jail over and keeping it secret hampered the investigation more than it should have. I am looking forward to more from this author and Dr. Maclean. This story was interesting and kept me reading to the end. 4 stars I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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