The Semester of Our Discontent
1st in Series
Publisher: Henery Press (April 5, 2016)
Paperback: 256 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01A7BH83S
English professor Lila Maclean is thrilled about her new job at prestigious Stonedale University, until she finds one of her colleagues dead. She soon learns that everyone, from the chancellor to the detective working the case, believes Lila—or someone she is protecting—may be responsible for the horrific event, so she assigns herself the task of identifying the killer.
More attacks on professors follow, the only connection a curious symbol at each of the crime scenes. Putting her scholarly skills to the test, Lila gathers evidence, but her search is complicated by an unexpected nemesis, a suspicious investigator, and an ominous secret society. Rather than earning an “A” for effort, she receives a threat featuring the mysterious emblem and must act quickly to avoid failing her assignment…and becoming the next victim.
“Why There Are No Recipes in my Mysteries” by Cynthia Kuhn
I love reading cozy mysteries in which the sleuth can cook—especially those in which the detective-slash-love-interest shows up and our sassy protagonist, despite the fact that there are only six ingredients in her refrigerator, whips up something amazing.
And I always read the recipes in the back of said books, even though I don’t make them…because, like Lila Maclean in The Semester of Our Discontent, I’m more of a warmer-upper than a make-things-from-scratch kind of person. I’ve always meant to commit to kitchen goddessness, but my intentions were usually foiled by classes that needed to be prepped, papers that needed to be graded, etc. But one day, after a particularly inspiring episode of Top Chef, I resolved to give it a go.
First up: a simple eggplant lasagna. I was halfway through making the recipe when I realized that there were a few issues. I’d already started broiling the eggplant slices and had mixed up the ricotta blend. However, some of the other ingredients didn’t have any amounts listed. Plus, it didn’t say how long to cook it. Just “until bubbly.”
Not thrilled with the idea of staring through the glass oven window for who knows how long, I ran to the computer, did an internet search until I found something that looked similar, printed out that recipe, and made the rest of it that way. I’m pretty sure that you’re not supposed to start with one recipe and finish with another, but it was either that or order a pizza (an incredibly tempting possibility at that point).
Once I had some amounts and time guidelines, things progressed nicely. Except that I’d cut the eggplant into circles rather than strips. So when I was making “layers” of sauce, cheese, and eggplant, everything not anchored on top of a circle plunged to the bottom of the pan. I decided just to concentrate on building up from the circles. And I became so focused on the architecture that when I finished and said “Ta Da!” proudly (yes I did), it was pretty humbling to turn around and see that I’d completely forgotten to put the second layer of eggplant in there. Deep sigh. So I just plunked them on top, threw it in the oven fast, and hoped for the best.
Verdict: tasted great, but resembled the unidentifiable food jumbles that the school lunch ladies used to scoop onto our little plastic trays. Most important thing I learned: read the recipe all the way through before beginning. Second most important thing I learned: it would probably not be a good idea for me to include recipes in my mysteries.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cynthia Kuhn teaches and writes in Colorado. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She is the current president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado and blogs withMysteristas. Visit her at cynthiakuhn.net or @cynthiakuhn.