Meet Cynthia

ck2x3 Cynthia Kuhn grew up reading Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Miss Marple, and any other mysteries with women detectives that she could find. She sleuthed around the suburbs with her sister and best friend, which consisted primarily of recording the license plate of every car that went by via notepads stored in the flowered baskets on their bikes. (You’re welcome, neighbors.)

Nowadays, she writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries, featuring a professor-turned-amateur-sleuth in picturesque but perilous college settings, and the Starlit Bookshop Mysteries, which focus on a bookseller/literary event planner solving mysteries in an artistic mountain community.

Her work has also appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mystery Most Edible,  Mystery Most Diabolical, Mama PhD, and other publications.

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The Starlit Bookshop Mysteries

How to Book a Murder (Book 1)
Crooked Lane Books

Perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Kate Carlisle, in award-winning author Cynthia Kuhn’s series debut, small-town bookseller and literary event planner Emma Starrs is out to close the book on a killer intent on crashing the party.

To help save her family’s floundering Colorado bookstore, Starlit Bookshop, newly minted Ph.D. Emma Starrs agrees to plan a mystery-themed dinner party for her wealthy, well-connected high school classmate Tabitha Baxter. It’s a delightful evening of cocktails and conjecture until Tabitha’s husband, Tip—hosting the affair in the guise of Edgar Allan Poe’s detective C. Auguste Dupin—winds up murdered.

In a heartbeat, Emma and her aunt Nora, a famous mystery writer, become suspects. Emma is sure the party’s over for Starlit events, until celebrated author Calliope Nightfall, whose gothic sensibilities are intrigued by the circumstances, implores the bookseller to create a Poe-themed launch event for her latest tome. Throwing a bash to die for while searching for additional clues is already enough to drive Emma stark raven mad, but another shocking crime soon reveals that Silvercrest has not yet reached the final chapter of the puzzling case.

Someone in this charming artistic community has murder on the mind, and if Emma cannot outwit the killer, she and her beloved aunt will land behind bars, to walk free nevermore.

  • Lefty Award nominee, Best Humorous Mystery
  • Colorado Authors League Award, Cozy Mystery

“beautifully written and so full of love for books and their authors and readers” — Vicki Delany, national bestselling author of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mysteries

Forthcoming: In the Event of Murder (Book 2)
Crooked Lane Books

It’s the star-studded event of the season in Silvercrest, Colorado—but some of the guests might not make it to the last dance alive in the second charming installment in the Starlit Bookshop mysteries, perfect for fans of Paige Shelton and Kate Carlisle.

Nestled on the banks of a breathtaking Rocky Mountain river and dotted with delightful boutiques and galleries, Silvercrest, Colorado, is a book lover’s paradise. Bookseller and literary event planner Emma Starrs is looking forward to attending the annual Silvercrest Library Gala, a glamorous evening with celebrities including the legendary Whitney Willton, currently on the hit crime show Chasers, and her niece, party-planner-to-the-stars Lyra Willton. Gala Week is full of exciting activities honoring both page and screen, and library board president Tabitha Baxter is basking in the glow of her successful launch—until Lyra is found dead.

With the gala only days away, the board asks Emma for help, despite Tabitha—her longstanding nemesis—bristling over the choice. Emma agrees, even though she is already in charge of a classic mystery panel at her family’s bookstore, Starlit Books, which turns out to have its own challenges. Meanwhile, Whitney, who is aware of Emma’s sleuthing skills, begs her to find the killer. The case grows more complex with the disappearance of several priceless objects, an attack on one of the attending celebrities, and other predicaments.

Emma searches for clues while handling every unexpected twist and turn leading up to the extravagant affair. But when the guests step onto the red carpet, a killer still lurks in the shadows—and murder just might become the main event.

The Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries

The Semester of Our Discontent (Book 1)
Henery Press

Semester of our Discontent.pngEnglish 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 found 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.

  • Agatha Award, Best First Novel
  • William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant

“The first sentence grabbed me, the ending surprised me and, in between, The Semester of Our Discontent was a box of delights.” – Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series and The Child Garden

The Art of Vanishing (Book 2)
Henery Press

The Art of Vanishing.pngWhen Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.

The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.

  • Lefty Award nominee, Best Humorous Mystery

“Entertaining, intricate, and oh-so-smart! A terrific plot—with a surprise around every corner.” – Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Say No More

The Spirit in Question (Book 3)
Henery Press

SpiritEnglish professor Lila Maclean knew drama would be involved when she agreed to consult on Stonedale University’s production of Puzzled: The Musical. But she didn’t expect to find herself cast into such chaos: the incomprehensible play is a disaster, the crumbling theater appears to be haunted, and, before long, murder takes center stage.

The show must go on—yet as they speed toward opening night, it becomes clear that other members of the company may be targeted as well. Lila searches for answers while contending with a tenacious historical society, an eccentric playwright, an unsettling psychic, an enigmatic apparition, and a paranormal search squad. With all of this in play, will she be able to identify who killed her colleague…or will it soon be curtains for Lila too?

  • Lefty Award nominee, Best Humorous Mystery
  • Foreword Indies Book of the Year Award finalist, Mystery

“Lila Maclean returns with theatrical hilarity and otherworldly suspense. A fabulous backstage whodunit.” – Gretchen Archer, USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-nominated author of the Davis Way Crime Caper Series

The Subject of Malice (Book 4)
Henery Press

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.

  • Lefty Award nominee, Best Humorous Mystery

“An intelligent, witty mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end.” – Libby Klein, Author of the Poppy McAllister Mysteries

The Study of Secrets (Book 5)
Henery Press 

There could be nowhere more fitting for English professor Lila Maclean to spend her sabbatical than in a proper Victorian mansion. The whimsical Callahan House seems to have materialized from the pages of the mystery novels she is researching, with its enchanting towers, cozy nooks, and charming library. Unfortunately, it also features a body in the study.

Residents of Larkston have long believed that the Callahan family is cursed—the murder on the estate sets the town buzzing. Wild rumors are fueled by a gossipy blogger who delights in speculation, and further crimes only intensify the whispers and suspicions. A newly discovered manuscript, however, appears to expose startling facts beneath the fictions. When Lila steps in to sort the truth from the lies, it may cost her everything, as someone wants to make dead certain that their secrets stay hidden.

  • Lefty Award nominee, Best Humorous Mystery
  • Daphne du Maurier Award finalist, Mainstream Mystery/Suspense

“Kuhn earns top marks with The Study of Secrets, her best academic mystery yet.” — Margaret Mizushima, author of the award-winning Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries

“an unbeatable combination of Golden Age styling and modern-day intrigue, woven through with wit and keen observation” — Angela M. Sanders, author of the Witch Way Librarian and Joanna Hayworth Vintage Clothing mysteries

“This delightful cozy deserves extra credit for its clever protagonist, laugh-out-loud dramatics, and layers of mystery.” – Nora Page, author of the Bookmobile Mysteries

“Witty and smart, Lila Maclean is everyone’s favorite English professor.” – Mary Angela, author of the Professor Prather Mysteries and Happy Camper Mysteries

“Between the covers is absolute humor, yet under the funny stuff lies a serious suspense-filled story.” – Suspense Magazine

“This continues to be a shining example of entertaining academic mysteries.” – Kings River Life 

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