The Study of Secrets (A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery)
Cozy Mystery/Amateur Sleuths
5th in Series
Publisher: Henery Press (May 26, 2020)
Hardcover: 242 pages
About the Book: There could be nowhere more fitting for English professor Lila Maclean to spend her sabbatical than in a proper Victorian mansion. The whimsical Callahan House seems to have materialized from the pages of the mystery novels she is researching, with its enchanting towers, cozy nooks, and charming library. Unfortunately, it also features a body in the study.
Residents of Larkston have long believed that the Callahan family is cursed—the murder on the estate sets the town buzzing. Wild rumors are fueled by a gossipy blogger who delights in speculation, and further crimes only intensify the whispers and suspicions. A newly discovered manuscript, however, appears to expose startling facts beneath the fictions. When Lila steps in to sort the truth from the lies, it may cost her everything, as someone wants to make dead certain that their secrets stay hidden.
This is the fifth book in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series, but it is the first I have read. It can definitely be read as a standalone as I had no problem whatsoever following this story or enjoying it. Lila is an assistant-professor, who is working on her dissertation about the long forgotten mystery author, Isabella Dare. When she meets a woman at a conference, imagine her surprise to find out she is “the” Isabella Dare, aka Bibi Callahan, and lives near her home, in fact, she knows her mother. While on sabbatical, Bibi invites her to stay with her in one of the cottages on her property, to help her organize her papers. She and Bibi become friends and she is invited to run her book-club using one of her books. At that meeting, Lila lets it slip that she found an unpublished manuscript by Isabella Dare and Bibi confesses to her friends that she is the author. When one of her friends is found dead in the library later that evening, Bibi asks Lila to help her figure out who killed her friend and why.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Lila is smart, resourceful, principled, loyal and determined. She wants to help her new friend and is frustrated when the police won’t involve her in the investigation. Bibi and her friends were a great group. They were older and bit eccentric at times, but loyal friends who helped when they could. This was a well-written and plotted mystery. I enjoyed the quick pace and the twists along the way. There were just enough suspects to keep me guessing, and I was once again, surprised with the final reveal. The setting of the book in the small college town added a nice touch and the Christmas season brought in an opportunity to add some party scenes, some interesting decorations and ornamentation and some party finery. I really enjoyed this story and I will be going back to read the first four books in this series (I think I have the first 2 on my kindle already). Cynthia Kuhn is an author I had never read before, but with this wonderfully written, interesting, mystery, I definitely recommend her book. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About the Author: Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries: The Semester of Our Discontent, The Art of Vanishing, The Spirit in Question, The Subject of Malice, and The Study of Secrets. Honors for the series include an Agatha Award for best first novel and Lefty Award nominations for best humorous mystery. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.