The Subject of Malice by Cynthia Kuhn The Subject of Malice by Cynthia Kuhn
Series: Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #4
Published by Henery Press on July 23, 2019
Source: Purchased
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 236
Format: eBook
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four-stars

The organizers have rustled up plenty of surprises for the literary conference at Tattered Star Ranch. But the murder of an influential scholar wasn’t on the program—someone has clearly taken the theme of Malice in the Mountains to heart. This shocking crime is only the beginning: other dangers and deceptions are soon revealed.

English professor Lila Maclean has a full agenda: she must convince a press to publish her book (possibly), ace her panel presentations (hopefully), and deal with her nemesis (regrettably). However, when Detective Lex Archer requests Lila’s academic expertise, she agrees to consult on the case. While her contributions earn high marks from her partner, it could be too late; the killer is already taking aim at the next subject. As Lila races to keep her colleagues alive, publish or perish takes on new meaning.

In The Subject of Malice, Lila leaves campus for a convention at nearby Tattered Star Ranch. The small press that will be publishing her book is there and she’s meeting with her editor, in between attending panels, tours, and odd jobs as a member of the planning committee. Her rival, Simone, and Simone’s twin sister, Selene, are also attending the conference and apparently co-writing a book on the same author as Lila, which is both bad for Lila and unprofessional on Simone’s part. It’s all stressful and the keynote is maybe a jerk, even if he’s an incredibly popular writer. And then one of the editors ends up dead.

Lex is on hand to investigate. Time passes between the books in this series and Lila and Lex have been dating for over a year now. Anyway, he actually asks Lila to consult for the department, since she knows the people and has a better grasp on potential motives. Yeah, probably wouldn’t happen in real life, but cozies aren’t real life and I’m fine with that.

The mystery was pretty good. Several potential suspects are at the ranch. Then, a second person is murdered. We’ve got people with motives for one murder or the other, but only seemingly a few with reasons to kill both men. There were a couple of surprises along the way.

This paragraph is a bit of a spoiler cause it kind of ticked me off. Apparently, Lex is married. Yep, Lila finds him kissing his wife. He knows she saw them and tries to explain, but she’s rightfully upset. I’m thinking break-up, maybe she gets together with Nate in the next book, but nope. He tells her they’re separated, the wife was out of the country and just got back, it was just a friendly kiss. And he loves Lila. And she’s like okay, I love you to. Nah.

Aside from that, it was entertaining and a quick read.

About Cynthia Kuhn

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries and the Starlit Bookshop Mysteries.

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.

Originally from upstate New York, she lives in Colorado with her family. She is professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she teaches literature, writing, and film.

In addition, she is past president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado and a current national board member. Other memberships include Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Short Mystery Fiction Society, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Authors League, and the multi-author blog Chicks on the Case.

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