Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn - #review #giveaway

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 the task of identifying the killer.

More attacks on professors follow, the only connection a curious symbol at each of the crime scenes. Putting her scholarly skills to the test, Lila gathers evidence, but her search is complicated by an unexpected nemesis, a suspicious investigator, and an ominous secret society. Rather than earning an “A” for effort, she receives a threat featuring the mysterious emblem and must act quickly to avoid failing her assignment…and becoming the next victim.



Having the Kindle version of this book, I actually read it before I saw the cover.  I must say the cover definitely fits the story ...  mysterious and possibly ominous.  And am I the only one who thinks the college fence and gate looks like the entrance to a cemetery?

It's amazing that Stonedale students get any learning done, given the generally paranoid state of their professors and administration.  The professors are expected to publish, publish, publish to bring prestige to the university ... but only in the 'acceptable' venues.  Junior professors are expected to not voice opinions that differ from their more senior colleagues.  Add to that, discrimination (along whatever bias) seems to be an institutional practice.

And The Semester of Our Discontent has almost as many bodies as a Shakespearean tragedy!  One of the most despised professors on campus is found dead in the faculty conference room before a meeting.  A second professor is attacked in her own home (but she survives).  The first victim's brother, who has taken over his professor position, is found staked at the Halloween gathering.  And Lila has more than one near-miss.  This perpetrator is getting that overtime action!

As happens in some mysteries, the single female MC will look at single male characters with an eye towards whether or not they are 'relationship material'.  And, I suppose, if they don't, I usually do (for their sake).  There were several candidates in 'Semester', and while I did not guess correctly, I sure hope things work out for Lila.

I have a renewed respect for my former professors and teachers and all the work that they do.  A LOT of it is behind the scenes.  It has to be a calling.

Lila did not always have every hair in place, but that makes her a very approachable character.  She works hard and forges her own way in the academic jungle.  I hope she has a long career!



Cynthia Kuhn teaches and writes in Colorado. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She is the current president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado.



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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my objective review.  This post contains affiliate links.)


  1. This sounds like a great book. I always wondered what went on behind the scenes at my alma mater--not sure it was this heady, but then, it does give new meaning to publish or perish! Looking forward to a fun read.

  2. Oh, this sounds super intriguing and interesting! Oh yes, teaching is a lot of hard work... not all are cut out for this profession. Hats off to all teachers who shape and mould young minds!

  3. Thank you very much, LuAnn!

  4. What an interesting concept. I would like to read this book

  5. This one does sound like one I could enjoy reading but wouldn't enjoy living in! I couldn't imagine having to be a student like that and work under all that pressure. It sounds like a nice mysterious read though.

  6. Yeah, behind the scenes at our institutions of higher learning is definitely a soap opera, Olivia. But I suppose that is true for most workplaces.