"Lesson Plan for Murder" By Lori Robbins: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa    

Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Homework, Hijinx, and Homicide

Liz Hopewell grew up in the Brooklyn projects, but she has risen above those experiences and an interesting family background. She’s been married to George, a VP at a Manhattan real estate firm, for twenty years, mother of two young teenagers, and is teaching English at Valerian Hills High School. She enjoys her interactions with students, but recognizes there are some teachers who take their position very seriously, and although they may entrance students with their tutorials, they may also run roughshod over those students and intimidate colleagues. That, Liz Hopewell will attest, is Dr. Marcia Deaver. The new school year is set to commence and Marcia has cornered several teachers, including Liz, spewing accusations about her stolen $700 desk chair and threatening legal action. Liz professes her innocence, but Marcia shoots a warning at Liz that she will never get the AP English class she wants, a desire she made known in a survey done by the school officials. It’s destined to be a long year, but murder? That’s not part of the approved curriculum.

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Lesson Plan for Murder
Earns 5+/5 Lesson Plans … Clever & Engaging!

For teachers, it’s bittersweet when the summer ends and the new school year begins, but Liz is still eager to once again greet her new batch of students. However, Marcia Deaver’s volatile attack about the location of her precious chair has Liz walking on eggshells. The teachers’ only meeting was a trying affair, so Liz decides to take a break, pick up her opening day folder, and go back to her classroom. The school secretary, Mrs. Donnatella, not one of Liz’s favorite people, makes a point of reminding Liz she should be in the meeting. (Her clever Terminator quote falls flat.) Sitting at her desk, she’s surprised to discover she’s been given two opening day folders: hers and Marcia’s. She decides to cross the hall to drop it off on Marcia’s desk instead of trying to find her or return it to Mrs. Donnatella. But, the classroom is a mess with books, papers, and posters strewn haphazardly across the floor along with boxes, Marcia’s red-soled heels, and her dead body splayed behind her desk. Yes, it’s going to be long year!

Grades are In … A+!

I am a fan of Lori Robbins and her On Pointe Mystery series, and with her rereleased novel from her Master Class Mystery series, Lesson Plan for Murder, I am now her number one fan! I, myself, am a teacher, now retired, having spent most of my thirty-five years in fourth-grade, so some of the nuances of staff and administration interactions, student and parent involvement, and the technical side of teaching were well presented adding an air of realism I expect. But, in my experience, the only thing murdered during my tenure was the box of donuts delivered every Monday.

Of course, there’s a delay in determining the cause of death, but suspects and motives start to appear, and dissecting the victim’s life, as Liz takes it upon herself to do, brings up a few surprising issues: her personal relationships, lack of friendships, staunch support for the conspiracy theory that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare, intervening parents, and then, the rumor about her future at Valerian Hills. But, before much of the drama gears up, there’s the envelope marked Substitute Lesson Plans that Liz accidentally dislodged from Marcia’s desk. Inside are a series of three lesson plans for books not in the curriculum and details, any English teacher would recognize, are inaccurate. Do they hold the truth about murder? Will the detective in charge value Liz’s expertise and eagerness? How long can she handle her husband’s continued dismissive and accusatory manner? Candidate for “Top of 2023.”

There’s brilliant insights, entertaining humor, and clever witty retort, and the characters Lori Robbins created are diverse and may remind readers of someone in their life. They are thoughtful and talented, secretive and selfish, multigenerational and multifaceted, good and not so good. Liz is a realistic depiction of a middle-age high school teacher with her complaints of the time spent on her job, and reactions to student, colleagues, and admin, and although she’s juggled well the demands of work and family, her marriage seems a problematic facet of her life. [I was lucky to have married a teacher; like minds.] The other characters are also realistic composites with all the annoyances, unenthusiastic, and “flying under the radar” personalities adding to the hierarchy in the community, and hidden well are the agendas, emotions, and guilt. Who knew a world of teachers could be so dramatic! I did; I could write a book about my experiences.

I love chapter titles, and very few authors use them, but Lori is very clever saying, “The heading for each chapter of Lesson Plan for Murder is the title of a famous work of literature, and for all the armchair detectives out there, those titles also provide coded clues. No final exam will be given, but extra credit is a definite possibility!”

Be a Big Fan of Lori Robbins!

Lori Robbins is a favorite author channeling her experiences as a teacher and a dancer to create two engaging series. She uses her experiences as an English teacher to pen A Master Class Mystery series rereleasing Lesson Plan for Murder. Having performed with several modern dance and ballet companies she shares a unique insight in her On Pointe Mystery series (Check out my KRL review for the first three books.). A fourth book, Murder in Fourth Position, is set for an October release, and two more, tentatively titled Murder in Fifth Position and Murder in Parallel Position. Experience is key!

Website: Lori Robbins

Facebook: Lori Robbins, Author

Twitter: Lori Robbins 99

 Enter to win either an ebook or print copy (winner's choice) of Lesson Plan for Murder by Lori Robbins by making a comment below about your school days: (1) a favorite teacher, (2) a fun high school anecdote, or (3) your opinion on the Shakespeare debate: did he or didn’t he? or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "lesson,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 10, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. 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 which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up soon.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
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'm in the Shakespeare wrote them camp. Bacon was too boring to write the plays. Marlowe didn't have the mind to write the sonnets.

    1. I agree! I remember reading somewhere, though, that we focus on the wrong question. We shouldn't ask how Shakespeare wrote all he did, we should ask how anyone did.

  2. I remember going to school and having to walk home. Those days you didn't have to take your kids to school and pick rhem up. We also had to carry our books in our arms. No backpacks for us. I prefer a print copy.

    1. I did as well, although in high school it was NYC mass transit that got me around town!

  3. My favorite teacher was in college- Ms Guidry. Very patient , and explained the material for business and accounting in easy to understand terms. Would not have made it through without her .

  4. If you are looking for a clever, fast, won't put down mystery, Lesson Plan for Murder is a perfect read. I loved her On Pointe series and this was a surprise read from Robbins. Highly recommend!!!

  5. My favorite teacher was Ms. Guidry in college. As a business/accounting teacher she was very patient and had a skill in explaining the material in easy to understand terms.

  6. Ms. Guidry in college. She had a gift for explaining the business class material in easy to understand terms.

  7. I would love to get a print copy! tWarner419@aol.com

  8. Favorite teacher was Professor Guidry in college. She had the skill of explaining such dry topics as accounting and business law in a way that made it understandable and interesting.

  9. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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