The Black Hour

Finished The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

For Chicago sociology professor Amelia Emmet, violence was a research topic–until a student she’d never met shot her. 

He also shot himself. Now he’s dead and she’s back on campus, trying to keep up with her class schedule, a growing problem with painkillers, and a question she can’t let go: Why?

All she wants is for life to get back to normal, but normal is looking hard to come by. She’s thirty-eight and hobbles with a cane. Her first student interaction ends in tears (hers). Her fellow faculty members seem uncomfortable with her, and her ex–whom she may or may not still love–has moved on.

Enter Nathaniel Barber, a graduate student obsessed with Chicago’s violent history. Nath is a serious scholar, but also a serious mess about his first heartbreak, his mother’s death, and his father’s disapproval.  Assigned as Amelia’s teaching assistant, Nath also takes on the investigative legwork that Amelia can’t do. And meanwhile, he’s hoping she’ll approve his dissertation topic, the reason he came to grad school in the first place: the student attack on Amelia Emmet.

Together and at cross-purposes, Amelia and Nathaniel stumble toward a truth that will explain the attack and take them both through the darkest hours of their lives.”

This book has been on my radar for a long time because my friend Erin raved about it.  I was excited to get a copy at BEA last year, and I planned to read it while I was on vacation.  It didn’t happen and didn’t happen.  I mention that because I am urging to you to learn from my mistake and read this book immediately.

It’s a suspense novel both for people who love suspense novels and people who don’t.  It’s not particularly gory or unsettling, but at the same time it’s almost impossible to put down.

Everything about this book was interesting.  There are a decent amount of subplots and it all seemed a little scattered until it wasn’t anymore.  The author was very intentional in how she handled things and that’s incredibly impressive.

Amelia is a hard heroine to like.  She’s prickly but she has reason to be.  (Although I’m pretty sure she was prickly even before she was almost killed.  Even so, I love her.)  If you’re one of those people who needs to love every character in a book, you probably won’t like her.  (She wouldn’t care and honestly, if you’re one of those people, I feel sorry for you because you’re missing all the best books anyway.)

Lori Rader-Day is an amazing new talent and is now a must-read author for me.

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