Last week was almost entirely taken up with cozy crimes, many of them the first in series as I’m on the hunt for another one to add to my lists. It’s proving a harder quest than I had imagined. Quite a few of the books that I read last week had a problem (or two). But in the end I settled on the first book in Cynthia Kuhn’s Lila McLean series – mostly on the basis that I went out and requested the second book from NetGalley after I finished it – which is out later this month – and then read that too.
So, in the Semester of Our Discontent we met Lila, newly appointed English professor at a small but prestigious university. But no sooner has she arrived at Stonedale than she has more to worry about than whether she’s going to get enough published to get tenure when she finds one of her colleagues dead. Her cousin (also on the staff and up for tenure) is one of the prince suspects, so Lila starts gathering evidence alongside teaching and settling in to her new job.
Now as a Brit, I had to google tenure the first time I can across it in a book a few years back, because it wasn’t something I had come across in the UK system, but this actually explains it really quite well and it made sense to me (or at least as much sense as it can make!) without slowing down the plot or doing an info dump. There’s a large cast of characters in this, who don’t always get a chance to become more than just names* but the people you do get to know are engaging and three dimensional. There’s definitely set up here for running threads for the series, but it’s done much less obviously than some of the other books I read last week.
There are a couple of moments that are a bit over the top (and I can’t tell you what) but Lila’s investigations are sensible enough and she never strays over the Too Stupid to Live or the Why the Monkeys Hasn’t She Been Arrested lines – which again was a problem in some of the other books that I read this week.
The Semester of Our Discontent isn’t perfect, but it’s engaging and readable and the depiction of campus life feels like it has plenty of potential for plots that don’t neccesarily revolve around loads of bodies**. And at time of writing its available for the bargain price of 99p on Kindle. It’s also available, but more expensive (£2.04) on Kobo. The second book, The Art of Vanishing, is available on the 28th – Kindle and Kobo are taking pre-orders now, and again at time of writing Kindle is the cheaper. They’re both published by Henery Press, who were the source of a fair few of my cozies last week, and they have more links to outlets where you can buy on their websites as well as sign up to their newsletter, which sometimes has freebies. Wink wink.
*Although this is sorted out in book 2
**As demonstrated in book 2