Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"The Subject of Malice" by Cynthia Kuhn

The Subject of Malice
(Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Book 4)
by Cynthia Kuhn

The Subject of Malice (Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Book 4) by Cynthia Kuhn

The Subject of Malice is the fourth book in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series by Cynthia Kuhn. Also available: The Semester of Our Discontent, The Art of Vanishing (read my blog post), and The Spirit in Question (read my blog post).

The Subject of Malice is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

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.

At the door, I narrowly avoided a gray creature with tentacles waving every which way. In the lobby, I passed two formidable vampires arguing about coffins. Near the fountain, I glimpsed a trio of witches chanting over the water as if it were a cauldron.
Monster Night was upon us.
The gold banner behind the hotel registration desk welcomed guests to Malice in the Mountains, sponsored by the Horror and Gothic Society. The organization’s first-ever conference was taking place near Stonedale, Colorado, where I was assistant professor of English at the university. Attendees had been invited to dress according to a daily theme and, as a result, the ensembles ranged from mild-mannered professor to full-on cosplayer. I had aimed for the former rather than the latter, choosing simple attire for a meeting with the editor of my first book.
Finding a vacant bench, I settled in to wait. Instrumental fiddle music played overhead, competing with the voices of enthusiastic scholars. It was an odd juxtaposition, but this was clearly no ordinary academic gathering, and the venue was part of the reason. The Tattered Star Ranch drew visitors from around the world to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Originally a working ranch, it had been used as a shooting location for many western films, but after it had begun to fall into disrepair in more recent decades, its ghost-town vibe had made it a popular location for horror movies.
When that era ended, new owners completed a costly expansion to transform the site into a full-service resort. The hotel proper was now U-shaped, with ten floors instead of the original three. Meeting rooms were situated in both wings with guest housing in the center. Along the back, a main street set left behind by one of the westerns had been converted into retail space. The middle of the square had been filled with gardens, benches, and statues. Wisely, the owners had played up the movie aspects—the entire place was dotted with leftover props and sets—and the hotel offered tours that sold out daily. Acres of forest surrounded the site, and a short walk over the wooden bridge spanning a babbling creek led to numerous hiking and horseback riding trails for those seeking additional adventure.
The renovation had yielded a lovely product. From where I sat, deep green pine trees were visible swaying in the wind through the glass walls. The seating was saddle brown and purposefully weathered, as if it had been plucked directly from the range. Rusted iron art pieces and mirrors with whitewashed frames were punctuated with yellow sunflowers. The stream of otherworldly characters passing by, however, would have looked more at home in an abandoned castle. I counted three werewolves, several wraiths, and a zombie.
I wondered if my editor would be in costume. I also wondered what we’d be talking about. Over a year ago, I had signed the contract with the university press and thrown myself into the work of getting the manuscript in order. Even though it was a revision of my doctoral dissertation on mystery writer Isabella Dare, much effort was required to reshape the material and perform additional research. The book was to be published in October, six months from now. The entire process—we had just completed final proofreading—had taken place over email. The only reason I was meeting Meredith Estevan in person was that we happened to be attending the same conference.
Her email invitation had been vaguely worded—she “wanted to go over some things.” The materials I’d received so far had informed me that the press would sell primarily to libraries and academic audiences but would make the book available for general purchase as well. There was no mention of marketing strategies or any kind of events. I typed a reminder into my cell phone to ask her about my responsibilities as an author.
Still gave me a thrill, that word.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
The Subject of Malice is the strongest book in this series to date. After having read it, I must give it a grade of A+.” ~ Carstairs Considers….
“Absolutely addictive.” ~ Kathleen Valenti, Lefty and Agatha nominated author of the Maggie O'Malley Mysteries
“A pure delight from page one. Cynthia Kuhn's Lila Maclean mysteries will cure what ails you. Funny and fantastic.” ~ Becky Clark, author of the Mystery Writer's Mysteries
“An intelligent, witty mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end.” ~ Libby Klein, Author of the Poppy McAllister Mysteries
“Papers, and panels, and murder, oh my! Everyone's favorite professor, Lila Maclean (secret powers include reading and finding bodies), is back and she's on the case (officially)! Lila's latest adventure is full of high drama and high crimes. Such FUN!” ~ Julie Mulhern, USA Today bestselling author of the Country Club Murders

About the Author
Cynthia Kuhn
Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series: The Semester of Our Discontent, The Art of Vanishing, The Spirit in Question, and The Subject of Malice. Honors include an Agatha Award for best first novel and Lefty Award nominations for best humorous mystery. She blogs with Chicks on the Case and is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of The Subject of Malice by Cynthia Kuhn.


Featured in this post: