"The Subject of Malice" By Cynthia Kuhn: Review/Giveaway

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review and links to purchase it.

Academic conferences bring together scholars who share their expertise, exchange ideas, and support those facing similar challenges. They also incur jealous sniping, snap judgments, and competitive battles for credentials and status. Into this mire wades Stone University assistant professor Lila Maclean, who is attending the Horror and Gothic Society’s inaugural Malice in the Mountains conference. Held at Colorado’s Tattled Star Ranch, the unique event incorporates cosplaying with scholarly sessions highlighting the study of gothic writings.

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Image Source Henery Press
It’s also where Lila will be meeting with Meredith Estevan, the editor who is helping Lila transform her doctoral dissertation into her first ever book. Lila’s barely repressed delight is quickly dowsed by the arrival of her nemesis Simone Raleigh, who announces that she and her twin sister are also publishing a book based on the same unknown author as Lila. The beautiful and high society sisters do everything they can to “Mean Girl” intimidate and diminish Lila’s hopes, not only claiming a family-friend connection with the publisher but in pushing their publication date ahead of Lila’s.

Preventing Lila from spiraling into despair are the arrivals of her University coworkers Nate and Calista, the latter her cousin and who already has a sought-after tenured professor status. Both are infuriated with the Raleigh sisters on Lila’s behalf, as she is doing her best not to panic at the thought of losing both the publication of her book and her publish-or-perish job. Lila’s isn’t the only book in jeopardy, as her publisher had thought they had a sure winner with a critical guide on bestselling author Flynn McMaster, but his unexpected rejection of all the included essays on his work threatens to tank it entirely. The brief sunny note is the arrival of her boyfriend Lex Archer, but it unfortunately coincides with a murder that calls in his professional duties as a Stonedale Police Detective. As the conference continues despite the appropriately gothic atmosphere, Lila is surprisingly made Lex’s official police guide through the machinations of scholars who prove to be as conniving as the subjects they study.

The political infighting among the academics delivers fascinating and endlessly entertaining glimpses into the world of university professors. As they struggle to publish and showcase their life’s work, the pettiness and fragile egos of these “intellectuals” are revealed. Lila stands out by truly loving her topic of overlooked author Isabella Dare, but Lila can’t help but feel heartbroken and enraged when the Raleighs usurp the author she felt was hers. This fourth of the series adds the intriguing question of who should have the final say in what a book truly means; the author or the readers. There is a rather huge bump in the road for Lex and Lila, but she reacts much more generously and rationally than one would expect. A final twist should lead to opportunities that Lila could never have expected, but are undoubtedly well deserved. This continues to be a shining example of entertaining academic mysteries, where universities and their professors showcase a lethal dose of entertainment.

Check out other Henery Press mysteries on their website.

To enter to win a copy of The Subject of Malice, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "subject,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 28, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via comment please include your email address. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, we will not use your address for any other reason. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast featuring mystery short stories and first chapters read by actors. A new episode went up this week.

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I've been to some unpleasant academic conferences. Count me in!

  2. Thank you for the review and giveaway--grateful for your kindness!

  3. This sounds really interesting. I'm curious to see what happens in it.

  4. Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter@hotmail.com

  5. Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the chance.

  6. Love the cover, Thanks for your great generosity. lindamay4852@yahoo.com

  7. Fun plot...Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  8. Thank you for the opportunity.

  9. As a former academic, Cynthia's characters bring the campus back to life quickly in my mind. I've enjoyed the first two books in this series and look forward to this next one. (Claire@clairemurraywrites.com)


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