“The Semester of Our Discontent” by Cynthia Kuhn

The Semester of Our Discontent

The Semester of Our Discontent

Cynthia Kuhn

Lila Maclean, brand-new assistant professor straight out of grad school (Oh, as if! What a delightful fantasy!) has arrived at Stonedale University to start her first job. She knows she’s going to have to watch out for department politics and the intrigues and backstabbing surrounding the tenure process. What she didn’t realize was that the backstabbing was going to become literal. Soon she’s stumbling over dead bodies right and left, and there’s a very real possibility that she might be next.

It’s a funny thing to me, as a professional academic, to think that for many people higher education is a kind of exotic, fascinating setting, just perfect for a cozy mystery a certain kind. Those people will probably enjoy “The Semester of Our Discontent” very much, as it gives an insider view on the kind of suffocatingly cozy petty intrigue at which academics excel, while still including a murder plot full of clues and symbols and secret societies that our plucky heroine must decode. For some of us the academic infighting might be a little too close to home to be entertaining, but some of the exchanges are all too realistic, alas. A fun, old-fashioned kind of cozy mystery, where the bodycount is high but the blood is mostly hidden, set against the backdrop of a cute college campus, with digressions on “the canon” and the importance of feminist scholarship in the field of English-language literature. If you like that kind of thing, you will like it; if not, then you won’t, but “The Semester of Our Discontent” is likely to appeal to lots of cozy mystery fans who are looking for something with a touch of intellectualism.

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