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The Semester of Our Discontent

(Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  487 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Agatha Award Winner, Best First Novel

English professor Lila Maclean is thrilled about her new job at prestigious Stonedale University until she finds one of her colleagues dead. She soon learns that everyone, from the chancellor to the detective working the case, believes Lila—or someone she is protecting—may be responsible for the horrific event, so she assigns herself th
Paperback, 246 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Henery Press
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The Semester of Our Discontent is the first book in the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries written by Cynthia Kuhn. To date, there are five books and this was the first one I've read by the author. Given how much I enjoy cozy mysteries and academic settings, I'm glad to have found it!

Lila Maclean is a professor at a Colorado university. In the opening scene, she's surprised by her boss's rudeness, and within a few more pages, the man is found knifed to death in a nearby conference room. We know Lil
Andrea Stoeckel
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
[ I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising]

“Even if much learning makes one person mad it need not make everybody mad.” Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

Newly minted D
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this one and loved it! In her first semester teaching at fictional Stonedale College, English professor Lila Maclean steps right in the middle of a mysterious murder. Soon enough, Lila realizes she may hold the clues to solving the mystery and takes you on a journey of connecting the dots and dodging danger at every corner. This whodunit kept me guessing until the very end. I love that in a story!

The author's writing style is so engaging. Weaving imagery and theme together seamless
Meredith ( on Semi-Hiatus until February)
Fun and light mystery!

When Lila Maclean, a new hire in the English department at an elite university in Colorado, discovers the dead body of the pompous department chair she is thrown into a series of events that point to her as being a suspect in his murder. As more faculty members are murdered, Lila works to discover who is offing the English department faculty.

If you have ever worked in academia, especially in an English department, you will greatly appreciate the humor and events that occur
Mary Angela
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was so much fun! I enjoyed all the light-hearted academic infighting as well as the protagonist's more serious desire to research an unknown female mystery writer. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series to find out where Lila Maclean's studies take her. ...more
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(Full disclosure-- I personally know this Author. She is a professor at the University I attend, and she happens to be one of my favorites! So yes, I have a somewhat personal bias towards her, but I will do my best to review the novel in a bipartisan way.)

This was a delightful, light mystery! In the mystery canon, I am sure it would be placed in the cozy category. It has just the right amount of action and suspense and I found the use of more than a few red herrings, while some were obvious, oth
Mark Baker
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, mystery
Lila Maclean is excited to be teaching her first semester as a professor. She’s not so happy with her department chair, however, especially after he shoots down her idea for a course on mysteries and basically tells her to sit down and observe. Walking into a department meeting a couple of hours later, she finds him stabbed to death on a table. With rumors that she knows more than she is saying, she decides to find the killer herself.

This is a fun debut. The college came alive for me, and I real
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was the first in a series and the first I have read by this author. Someone is out to get the professors at Stonedale. And personally, I think the first professor was lucky to have lived as long as he did. What a grumpy, opinionated old man. The killer should have got an award for that one. Ha!!

Anyways, there are lots of suspects and the cops are curious why Lila is always the one to find the bodies. Whether living or just injured. There is also something creepy going on around campus with
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not a typical mystery or cozy reader, and I read this book more for the academic angle. For me, therefore, Kuhn's book is, first and foremost, a terrific and funny look at life in a university's English department. I felt like Charles Dickens or Jane Austen had written about a modern English department with all of its infighting, strange and lovably horrible characters, and politics, politics, politics. Kuhn's book is an interesting mystery, don't get me wrong. But I have to say that I love ...more
Theresa Crater
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What fun. Kuhn has a truly wicked sense of humor disguised beneath sweet Lila's new-professor naivete and social anxiety. I've been in higher ed for entirely too long now, so I enjoyed the scenarios and quips quite a bit. As Henry Kissinger said, "Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low" (or something like that). Here Kuhn pushes those stakes over the edge until there's a body on the conference table. Enjoyed her smart, snappy writing style. Looking forward to more from th ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Lila Maclean has just started her job as an English professor at Stonedale University. She's just starting to make some friends with her colleagues and learn her way around but after a confrontation with a colleague she later walks in to find he's been murdered. More attacks on professors follow the first but when Lila's cousin is arrested in the case Lila vows to find out more about what is going on and clear her name.

The Semester of Our Discontent is one of those cozy mysteries that has the m
Emma Probst
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic mystery! It fuses an excellent plot and intriguing characters while infusing the entire thing with a wonderfully humorous quality that made it a joy to read. My favorite books are usually the ones that make me laugh and think, so I loved that this book contained so many funny gems that made me laugh audibly while reading alongside thought-provoking concepts at the heart of this mystery. The wide variety of lively characters reminded me of what I have read of Agatha Christie a ...more
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy, netgalley-arc
ARC honest review for Henery Press via NetGalley.

A killer stalks the hallowed halls of Stonedale University. And Lila Maclean, newly appointed professor at the university is thrown in the deep end, when her cousin Calista is accused of murder.

With all the back biting and back stabbing, who knew academia could be murder!

I really enjoyed this, the first book in the Lila Maclean Mysteries. With all the twists and turns, it will keep you guessing right until the end!

If you like the review and would
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good characters and plot twists have suspects becoming victims.

Dr Lila Maclean's new job as Assistant Professor of English should have come with a specialty subtitle "finder of dead bodies".

Stonedale University's English Dept. is run by a relic, Dr. Roland Higgins, whose views are archaic especially where women are concerned. When Lila finds him murdered then her cousin is arrested and Lila under suspicion she decides she has to investigate. Secrets begin to pile up and Lila finds herself in mor
Ellen Byron
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Semester of Our Discontent is smart, topical, and created an appealing world with appealing characters. I loved the university setting and how Kuhn examines the politics of this "small pond." I also really connected to how women in academia must struggle for respect. Looking forward to more Stonedale mysteries! ...more
Mar 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leslie Karst
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smart, engaging characters and witty writing make Cynthia Kuhn’s debut, the first in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series, earn top marks in my book.

Lila, fresh out of graduate school is delighted to have been hired as a professor of literature at the prestigious Stonedale University in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Until her department chair turns up stabbed to death, that is. When various of her friends and colleagues become suspects in the unlikable professor’s murder investigati
Keenan Powell
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Semester of Our Discontent is a delightful story about a brand-new English professor learning the unwritten rules of succeeding (i.e. getting tenure) at her job. Told in first person, Lila has a lovely voice that carries the story seamlessly from one event to the next. My favorite aspect of the story are the little jewels of humor buried every few pages. Finding them is like popping a gourmet jelly bean into your mouth. By the end of the book, I was enchanted with Lila and her new group of frien ...more
The Semester of Our Discontent was both speedy and emotionally satisfying. Lila Maclean is a new professor at prestigious Stonedale University. A young and idealistic hire in the English department, she unexpectedly slides into career peril. She was wholly unprepared for the vicious politics of the academic world: tenure wars, hostile department heads, canon disputes, and volatile faculty gatherings. Lila's world quickly unravels, and she faces job loss in every corner.

Her situation ultimately
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review

This book missed the mark for me, I think my problem was to have wrong expectations. I expected a cozy mystery similar to those I've read before, but then set at a school and with a teacher as main character. Instead I got a book about academic politics, literature and a mystery that was unsolvable unless you made a lucky guess.

I didn't know 90% of the authors the characters talked about, only one author sounded familiar, and I felt like I was m
Patricia Stoltey
I'm not sure I would have picked up the first book in an academic mystery series if I hadn't heard of the author through the Sisters-in-Crime-Colorado chapter I joined. I'm certainly glad I gave it shot because it's an outstanding story with an engaging sleuth, humorous as well as tense, and very well written. It's not easy being the new kid on the block, or in this case, the new professor in the English Department of a classy college. New professors are not expected to present new ideas too soo ...more
Matthew Galloway
This was a delight to read and I’m excited to read the second novel. I have a bit of a soft spot for novels that take place in the academic world and have a nice side of satire to go with it.

Lila was an excellent character and fun to get to know. Her work in solving the mystery stayed very much in line with who she was, rather than requiring her to suddenly be a super sleuth. She also was not unintelligent about her investigations — as many amateur sleuths seem to be. The author did not feel th
Lila is teaching at a private school in Colorado and working on her tenure track. The misogynistic department head is murdered and her cousin is jailed for the crime. She knows she didn't do it but what are the secrets she is hiding?

This book was rich in setting and a delightful time in ugly academic politics and secret societies. A very fun read!
Nancy Cole Silverman
Who knew the world of academia could be so cutthroat? When Lila Maclean, a new adjunct at Stonedale University, discovers the body of the department’s dean, she is drawn into much more than class plans and the inevitable competition among her peers for tenure. She’s suddenly a suspect. What an opening, and what insight into the world of academia. Kudos to author Cynthia Kuhn, who has created real-world characters with smart dialog and brought them from the page and into the hearts of her fans. A ...more
JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy, mysteries
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Craig Kingsman
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read many cozies, but I picked up this book for two reasons. First, it was the 2017 Agatha winner for best first novel. Second, the title is really great. Cynthia Kuhn did a great job of weaving background on the characters to weaving clues, to pointing fingers at suspects. While I did correctly deduce who committed the crimes, there were sufficient red herrings to make me rethink my suspect. I did however, have no idea as to the motive. I chuckled at the mystery character in the story n ...more
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Disclosure: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway

A great first entry in what I hope is a continuing series. Would rate this 4 1/2 stars if partial stars were available.

Lila MacLean is a newly minted professor of English Lit at Stonedale University. Unfortunately, she stumbles upon a dead body, and everyone seems to feel that she somehow has some involvement, whether direct or indirect. A series of possibly connected events occur, including an attack on a colleague, an arrest, another murder...
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great Book!
This is a great book; this is the first book in the Lila Maclean Mystery series by Cynthia Kuhn. Lila Maclean is an English professor and is excited about her new job at the prestigious Stonedale University that is until she finds one of her colleagues dead. When the police believes that Lila is protecting the killer she is determined to find the killer herself. If you are looking for a great book then you need to read this one. I am looking forward to the next book by this great auth
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
can't remember the last time I enjoyed a cozy so much ^^ ...more
Anne Libera
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smart semi-cozy academic mystery, the school is full of gothic architecture and discussions of literature, the academic types are well-drawn and the bodies pile up - pretty much what I was looking for.
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Play Book Tag: The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn -3 stars 2 12 Mar 17, 2019 04:49AM  

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Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series. Her work has also appeared in Mystery Most Edible, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD, and other publications. She is past president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado and a current national board member. For more information, please visit

Other books in the series

Lila Maclean Academic Mystery (5 books)
  • The Art of Vanishing (Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #2)
  • The Spirit in Question (Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #3)
  • The Subject of Malice (Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #4)
  • The Study of Secrets (Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #5)

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