Book review: The Semester Of Our Discontent - Cynthia Kuhn (Lila Maclean Mystery #1)
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.
The Semester Of Our Discontent is set in a prestigious university where the school's reputation and the academic rivalry set the tone for a cutthroat environment. A tough place to be the 'newby', as Lila soon discovers.
Although this book is called a mystery, I must say that it felt more like a political thriller - be it academic politics. Lila soon finds herself in the line of fire but instead of feeling a sense of peril, I was more focused on the faculty relationships - as was the story, it seemed. I felt the 'deadly' competitiveness of the academic world more than the actual threat of violence and murder.
When arriving at Stonedale University, Lila doesn't know any of her colleagues. Like any newcomer she's trying to find out as much as she can about their personalities and the inner workings of the department she's now a part of. I really enjoyed trying to piece everything together based on the snippets of "office gossip" she gets thrown her way, and eventually joining her in mentally making notes on motive and opportunity of the possible culprit.
I have no idea how this book could evolve into a mystery series, but I'm looking forward to finding out - and to learn and see more of Nathan's character.
Full of surprises and with some inspiring strong (female) characters, The Semester Of Our Discontent was an absolute joy to read and the vicious world of academics made for a setting that is both original and fascinating.