Thursday, May 3, 2018

Book Review: The Art of Vanishing by Cynthia Kuhn (Lila Maclean #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, different mystery
Cons: Academic life overshadows mystery at times
The Bottom Line:
Visiting author
Disappears, starting diff’rent
Mystery story

Someone is Out to Destroy Arts Week

Despite the fact that I spent years working at a college (in the accounting department, not teaching), I haven’t read too many mysteries set in schools.  The one exception to that has been the Lila Maclean series by Cynthia Kunh.  I’m not up to date with The Art of Vanishing, the second in the series.

It’s the start of Lila’s second semester teaching at Stonedale University.  She’s still trying to survive the college politics, doubly important for her since she wants to get tenure eventually.  So, when she is asked to be on the committee for Arts Week, an annual conference that brings in authors and artists to the college, she doesn’t feel she can say no.

Likewise, when the chancellor sends her out to interview the headline author, Damon Von Tussel, to bring in more publicity, she doesn’t feel she can say no.  Damon is most famous for a novel he wrote decades ago that has received tons of acclaim, and he’s just published his second book.  He also happens to be Lila’s mother’s ex.  However, before Lila can get the interview, Damon disappears from his dressing room backstage.  Then everyone on the Arts Week committee starts getting e-mails warning them that something bad will happen if Damon does speak.  What is going on?

Author Cynthia Kuhn is herself a professor, and she brings an insider look at the going ons at a college to this book.  There is a lot of internal politics present here, and at times, that seems to get in the way of the mystery.

This is a different mystery than I normally read, and I didn’t fully appreciate everything that was going on until the end.  As Lila tied things together, I could see how pieces of the puzzle were being set up earlier.  And, it was refreshing to have a variation on the usual to read.

The characters in this book are good.  I really like Lila, and it was a pleasure getting to meet her mom this time around.  Her mom is an artist, and she is a hoot.  I hope she comes to visit again in future books.  There are several other series regulars I like or, in one case, love to hate, and I’m interested to see how these relationships grow in future volumes.

I did find some minor timeline issues.  Yes, this is one of my biggest pet peeves.  Here, they are worth noting only in passing since they didn’t impact the story at all.

If you are looking for a different mystery with great characters, pick up The Art of Vanishing today.  I’m looking forward to my next chance to check in with these characters.

Study up with the rest of the Lila Maclean Mysteries.


  1. Enjoyed your review! As a former professor on and off the tenure track, I totally sympathized with Lila's fears and chafed at the characters who imposed upon her. I especially like the way Kuhn makes us laugh at the absurdities of academic life :-)

  2. I enjoy academic mysteries, so I'll be looking for this series. Thanks, Mark!

  3. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts, Mark!

    CT, so appreciate your comments. :)

    Shari, I hope you enjoy if you give them a try.