cover image The Black Hour

The Black Hour

Lori Rader-Day. Prometheus Books/Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (330p) ISBN 978-1-61614-885-0

Sociology professor Amelia Emmet, the heroine of Rader-Day’s exceptional debut, returns to Rothbert University, near Chicago, 10 months after a student shot her and killed himself. Struggling with physical and mental problems caused by her injuries, Amelia is equally aware of irony: she’s a scholar of violence in society, yet has no idea why she was attacked, had no acquaintance with the perpetrator, and only the sketchiest of memories of the incident. Nathaniel “Nath” Barber, her teaching assistant and student of Chicago’s gangland past, is eager to investigate and soon links the shooter with associates of Rothbert’s suicide hotline. Meanwhile, a reporter seems too conveniently at hand when trouble arises, an eccentric array of campus colleagues are inclined to blame the victim, and a scion of Rothbert’s founder may have taken entitlement to a new extreme. Chapters that alternate between Amelia and Nath’s viewpoints provide an irresistible combination of menace, betrayal, and self-discovery. [em]Agent: Sarah Bowers, Miller Bowers Griffin Literary Management. (July) [/em]