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Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She teaches English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and serves as president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado.
The Art of Vanishing is a delightful escape to Stonedale University and the joys, plights and perplexities in the life of Professor Lila Maclean, a lovely person who you'd want for your best friend. No spoilers here! Suffice it to say, I'd be happy to leave this world behind and visit Stonedale and hang out with Prof. Maclean again.
Cynthia Kuhn expertly portrays academic life, and I loved snooping around the Stonedale campus with her protagonist, Professor Lila Maclean, in this second book of the series. So many lines made me smile—and laugh out loud—at the familiar campus politics (muckety mucks, ha!). Maclean’s quirky mother was also a fun addition to this neat cast of characters. I can’t wait to see what Kuhn has in store for book three!
This is the second book in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series. What is unusual is that this is not a murder mystery but rather one of finding out why unusual events are happening.
The story is set in Stonedale University which is located in Colorado. Lila Maclean, a literary professor who is in her first year of teaching at the university (and who is concerned about her tenure track), becomes involved in solving the crimes which are occurring. They all revolve around Damon Von Tussel who, as it turns out, has a personal connection to Lila that brings her front and center as the person to keep Von Tussel safe and sound.
As the prior book in this series was a murder mystery, I kept waiting for that particular shoe to drop. When I was more than halfway through the book, I realized that the book would probably not include a murder. It made a difference on what I was looking for as far as clues were concerned. While I figured out the whodunnit before it was revealed in the book, the whydunnit was a little more difficult to decipher and needed some of the information given towards the end of the book to figure out the mystery.
I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next in the series.
I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
The follow-up to The Semester of Our Discontent finds Lila Maclean setting into her new teaching career at the prestigious Stonedale University in Colorado. The university "Arts Week" is to be headlined by the famous author, Damon Von Tussel. Von Tussel is celebrated for his first (and only) book. After years of not publishing, he has a new book in print. Most of his time in the intervening years has been spent behaving in a difficult and caddish manner. Of course, as he and Lila's flamboyant artist mother had a romantic relationship at one time, the chancellor thinks Lila is just the person to make sure Von Tussel behaves. Famous last words. The first event goes off without a hitch but Von Tussel simply vanishes afterward. It's time for Lila to call for her mother in hopes that she still has a way to reach him. There is someone on campus, however, who seems to be motivated to scuttle the Von Tussel appearances; valuable items go missing, cryptic messages are received, and people are injured in strange "accidents".
I find this series easy to read and different from most cozy mysteries due to its academic setting. I always knew that academia is cut-throat in its demands to "publish or perish" and political infighting. The corporate world has nothing on academia in that regard. While I like Lila, I find her a little passive and easily dominated. She just seems to stumble into solutions rather than actively seeking them out. I did enjoy meeting Lila's mother after hearing so much about her in the previous book.
A review copy of this book was sent to me by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions above are my own.
The Art of Vanishing by Cynthia Kuhn is the second book in her Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series. I was excited when this book came out and I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed. It was an enjoyable read that I could not put down.
I like Lila and her independent nature but she seems to be a little too naive considering her worldly upbringing with her mother, Violet O. She should have been more aware of Simone and her wily ways. Lila is also kind and supportive of her friends and her colleagues. In this book we get to know more about her and the secondary characters that were introduced in the first. I also got a kick out of finally meeting Lila's mom. She is definitely in a class all by herself and made a memorable appearance in this book. It was especially nice to meet Lex when he is off duty and begin to know him personally as we only met him professionally in the first book.
More academic politics, a cranky author, unsuccessful attempts to prevent the author from appearing at Stonedale and enough twists to keep you guessing until the reveals (yes, reveals!) There was also a hint at a possible romantic triangle which I hope does not happen as I really have enjoyed this series. I dislike romantic triangles as they often add nothing to the mystery and make the female protagonist seem indecisive.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Henery Press via NetGalley.