The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day

You’ll need to clear your schedule for this one, I read it in just one day. Interesting, fascinating, attention grabbing from the start. I just couldn’t put it down.


It’s The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day, her first novel, examining the culture of violence.  Dr Amelia Emmet was a sociology professor who taught and researched violence, deviance, and all the things that come with it.  But then she was shot by a student and became a research subject herself.  Told in two person narrative, Amelia readjusts to life and work a full year later on her return to campus.  Pain meds, class schedules, teaching, a research project up in smoke, she has the ultimate question of why.

Nathaniel is a graduate student who has an obsession with Chicago’s violent history.  Fascinated by Amelia he becomes her teaching assistant and makes her a research project of his very own.

While I enjoyed this book immensely, I did find the relationship between Amelia and Nathaniel to be a little inappropriate at several points and found Amelia a challenge to understand.  Perhaps that is the nature of the character but I would have liked to see more of her teaching, a little more character development and just a little more in general.  I do enjoy the way that Amelia never quite finds answers (despite her looking) and the end was a little unsatisfying but perhaps that is the way with topics like this one.

It’s gritty, a look into a topic we all know but seldom talk about. It’s the realization that there is no normal to get back to after tragedy that ripples out to effect everyone.

This was the first novel by Lori Rader-Day, the first written by her that I’ve read too.  I am however inspired to track down her other works, I see she has written two more books since this one was published.  I’m curious to see how those will be, what they will be about and how they compare to The Black Hour.



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