Publisher's Note:  

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.

The Black Hour

by Lori Rader-Day

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Overall Review:  

When I started reading this book, I wasn't expecting anything special. Actually, I wasn't even planning on reviewing it. However, once I was a few chapters in, I knew this would be a book I would want to write about.  This book was a stunner of a debut for author Lori Rader-Day. She did a wonderful job of setting up the story to give the reader just enough information to keep them interested, yet not enough for them to have the whole story figured out before the end.


I have always been interested in school-shootings and gun violence in schools. Columbine is fascinating, albeit gory and perhaps it is the gore and horror that draws me in. (The Black Hour isn't gory by any means. The facts are there about a shooting that occurred, but none of the blood and gore is involved.)  Even though the book sticks to the cold hard facts, the reader still gets the gist of what happened and how it affected all the characters involved.


The Black Hour isn't quite a mystery and it isn't just literary fiction either. It is a unique mix of the two, which is wonderfully refreshing. I never once felt bored with this story, and almost always was on the edge of my seat. This book is told in the alternating voices of the two main characters:  a teacher and her student. The perspectives they both lent to this story was probably part of why I liked this book so much. I was able to get a first-hand account of a tragedy that occurred, and also the fresh perspective of a newcomer to the scene. If you are looking for a book with a good storyline and a little bit of intrigue and mystery mixed in, The Black Hour may be just the ticket.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities; 5 scatological words; 1 F-Word derivative.


Violence/Gore:  Character mentioned to be shot, wounded; suicide mentioned with no detail; a character almost drowns, with one descriptive scene; school shooting is spoken of after the fact, non-detailed.


Sex/Nudity:  Adults kiss minors; sex is implied once, though no scene or details are given.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, personal crises, underage drinking, gun violence.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults drink; minors drink; prescription drug abuse mentioned.

Reviewed By Lydia
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