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The Black Hour

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  2,759 ratings  ·  391 reviews
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
Paperback, 331 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Seventh Street Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,759 ratings  ·  391 reviews

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Lori Rader-Day
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Well, of course I'm giving my own book five stars. What would YOU do?
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
*Interesting Story Idea

*The interesting story idea is never developed and wanders all over the map.
*It is poorly written and poorly edited, e.g. "wretched" and "retched" are different words!
*None of the characters were developed well enough for me to understand their actions, let alone their thoughts.
*The book is billed as a "whydunnit", but the reason why the villain did it is so implausible as to border on ridiculous.
*The protagonist can't seem to decide what she wants - excessive pa
Erin (from Long Island, NY)
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow!! I’d have to say this is my favorite book I’ve read in a while. Definitely didn’t expect that going in! It’s different then my usual psychological thriller, its more straight up. There are 2 narrators- but where sometimes 1 will be better then the other, that’s not the case here.. These people (& the University itself) were real, they were complicated- I felt what they felt.. But not in a draining, “why am I doing this to myself” way. I was completely absorbed in their lives.. & their relat ...more
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews, mystery
Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little), also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, who was an American Black Muslim minister and a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, has quoted "violence" as:

“Sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the Gun down.”

Lori Rader-Day, an American author, has spun a spectacular tale about violence in her debut book, The Black Hour. The author has extended the horizon to let us see through the very lives behind the campus corridors and classrooms and playground, where ever
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller
I really was not a fan of this book, but it gets two stars from me because I actually finished it.

But, while I was reading it, I kept asking myself, "Why am I finishing this?" And I don't really have an answer, except maybe I just kept hoping it would get better. The problem with it, I think, is that it teased me into maybe becoming invested, but then it would go back to dragging. So I kept reading hoping that the pace would pick up and snare me in, but it never did.

I found the book confusing--i
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
For Amelia Emmet, a professor of sociology, the study of human behavior has taken a spot up close and very personal in her life. Ten months after surviving a seemingly random attack by a student who shot her and then took his own life, she returns to her teaching position at a renowned Chicago university. Trying to fit back into her life as she knew it proves more difficult than she anticipated. As a result of her gunshot wounds, she now walks with a cane. There are gaps in her memory of the inc ...more
Kim Rader
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
Lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of this. Clear your day once you start reading, because you won’t want to put this down. Here are some of my favorite things about this book… 1. Characters full of flaws. Who wants to read something with perfect, unrealistic characters? Better to be able to identify with their fears and snarkiness. Especially the snarkiness. Right? 2. At one point in the book, I suspected EVERYBODY. WTF? I love it when I can’t predict where a book is going. 3. The fast-pace ...more
Reff Girl
May 13, 2014 rated it did not like it

The Black Hour

This debut thriller by Lori Rader-Day gives us Dr. Amelia Emmet, a Sociology professor at Rothbert University, a fictional university on the shores of Lake Michigan near Chicago. Her field of study is violence and society, and she herself is only recently coming back to work after having been shot by a student.

The police believe that this was a random act of violence, since the shooter Leonard (Leo) Lehane was not a student of hers and there seems to be no connection. Or is there?

Stefani Sloma
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Black Hour is the best debut novel I have read in a while. I was blown away by it.

The Black Hour is about a professor, Amelia Emmet, at a university who was shot in the gut the year before by a student who shot her and then himself. It’s about a graduate student, Nath Barber, who becomes her TA and wants to do his dissertation on what happened to her. It is about those two people, but it is about so much more. The Black Hour is about going through some of the most difficult things in your li
DNF - My sister randomly picked this book up at the library so I decided to check it out too so we could read it together. I got through 18% of it (chapter 9) and I just was completely bored and uninterested. The college professor, Amelia, was already shot before the story begins so there's no real thrilling parts introduced early on to grab your attention - not even via a flashback. Her new student assistant, Nathaniel (who is not the shooter, because that kid is dead), apparently chose the col ...more
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
What a frustrating book.

I gave it three stars because I did finish it - I did want to know, at least, what had happened to the main character, a professor who gets shot for no apparent reason by a student she had never met, and is essentially blamed by her own university for something that they think, despite the evidence, that she must have been involved in. So the book did hold my interest to keep reading to the end. Some books I just give up on when it doesn't seem to be coming together - thi
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been gathering my thoughts on this book for about a day now, and I don't think I'm any closer to pinpointing where it went wrong, or even, what it got right. The good and bad all sort of melt together and amble along.

For a while throughout the beginning of the story, I had to push myself to keep reading. The introduction on paper is intriguing, but in practice failed to fully hook me. Pacing got better and it was almost like this book kept wooing me back, only to disappoint me again with po
Jul 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: debut, fiction
This debut had all the makings of a read I'd love. Don't get me wrong, 3 stars are solid but I was hoping to rate it 4. What went wrong? I'm not quite certain. The Black Hour begins when Professor Amelia Emmett returns to teach her sociology class after a long hiatus due to being shot by a student. This leaves Emmett with a cane and reeling with questions as to what caused this particular student to shoot her. After all she didn't know this boy the one she has only seen while facing him in the c ...more
This book was all over the place and at times hard to follow. The characters were mostly boring and whiney.
Larry H
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
It has been a while since I've gotten so engrossed in a book that I nearly missed my metro stop, but that happened when nearing the end of Lori Rader-Day's well-written and compelling The Black Hour. Luckily I looked up just as I realized where we were!

Dr. Amelia Emmet is a sociology professor specializing in the study of violence at a prestigious Chicago university. She is well-respected and driven. Then one day the unthinkable happens—a student shoots her and then kills himself. No one underst
I can't say this was filled with suspense or riveting action, but I couldn't put it down this weekend. The Black Hour is a psychological drama that unfolds slowly as the thoughts of the two central characters (who alternate voices throughout the novel) are revealed - along with self-doubt and self-loathing. The answers aren't revealed until nearly the end of the novel and I was guessing the whole way through - and my guesses were wrong. I like the surprising, but subtle twists in the novel. A st ...more
Goodreads Descriptions- 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 (he
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bottoms, 2014-reads
PROTAGONIST: Amelia Emmett, university professor, and her teaching assistant, Nathaniel Barber
SETTING: Fictional college
RATING: 2.25
WHY: Ten months ago, Amelia Emmett was shot by a college student she had never met, who then committed suicide. She's had some mobility problems ever since, having to use a cane. When she returns to work, she seemed intent on believing the worst of everyone around her, that she was being shunned and judged by her colleagues and students alike. I had a hard time with
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was after a psychological mystery/thriller, this book certainly markets itself as one, but alas it just didn't really work. It had all the right ingredients, there was a mystery shooting, tons of psychology behind and around it, but it never quite came together for a cohesive thrilling total sum. Instead there was a dramatically overwritten plot with neither particularly interesting nor charismatic characters and by the time the story dragged itself to its resolution one just didn't care that ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: d, 2014

For 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 stuck with a cane and one question she can’t let go: Why her? All she wants is for life to get back to normal. Better than normal, actually, since life was messy before she was shot. Then graduate student Nathaniel Barber offers to help her track down some answers. He’s got a crush and his own agenda—plans to make her his kil
Actually finished this last night but didn't take the time to review before going to bed! I loved this book! Really creepy without being too scary for me, if that makes any sense. And though I kept getting closer to identifying the perpetrator(s) and the underlying causes, I didn't piece it all together until the characters did. I also like Amelia. She is certainly no generous, exceedingly kind, or necessarily thoughtful person, but definitely flawed--with baggage--lots of baggage. And I like th ...more
Natalia Sylvester
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lori Rader-Day's debut about a sociology professor's return to campus after being the sole victim of a school shooting (aside from the shooter himself) is a brilliant read. It's a page-turner for sure, but it's also a fascinating take on the traditional "whodunnit" mystery because the real driving question to the story is "why"? Why this student, and why this professor his victim? The novel is told from the point of view of Dr. Amelia Emmett and her teaching assistant, Nathaniel Barber (who has ...more
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, mystery
A fascinating mystery that looks backwards and forwards.

Sociology professor Amelia Emmet is returning to teaching at Rothberg College after a 10-month absence. The absence was not by choice. Ten months ago a young student shot her and then shot himself. She didn't know him and has no idea why he did it. But no one believes that. Why would Leo Lehane target her specifically? In the months that she has been slowly, painfully trying to gain a semblance of her old life, the speculation on campus has
Oct 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
I don't normally write negative reviews, but this book was just so off the mark for me. The premise was so silly, and none of the characters are believable or the least bit likable. Somehow I finished this book in hopes at least the whodunit factor would make it worth it, but even that was a total letdown. Somehow this small elite university has its own suicide hotline, oh and they let kids monitor it, and everyone blames the professor for getting shot by one of the kids. Just none of it rang tr ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Seriously could NOT put it down!
Elena Santangelo
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
This novel had so many things wrong with it on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin.

I'll start with what was good. The prose was engaging and kept me reading, even when I was yelling at other things in the book. And the character of Amelia seemed to begin hesitantly and stiffly, but she opened up and became a 3-dimensional and sometimes likeable person with a voice all her own, though probably not someone I'd ever want to hang out with.

The novel uses 2 first-person voices. The reader
Elena Hartwell
Great writing, leans toward literary. Set on a college campus with two POVs, one professor, one student. No graphic sex or violence. Amateur sleuths unravel events around the shooting of the professor several months before the start of the book.
Jason Pettus
So first, let me get my bias out of the way, that I am not a big fan of crime novels in general (today's book is being reviewed specifically because the publisher sent me a copy, not because I sought it out on my own), and that things that make me annoyed within this genre are many times things that won't bother a heavy crime fan at all. But that said, even I know that the main thrill of the average crime novel is that it has a more heightened pace than most other types of books, and a storyline ...more
M Cooley
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved The Black Hour. As the book begins, the worst has already happened: a sociology professor has been shot by a student. In less skilled hands, the fact that we know who did it from page one could have killed the story, but Rader-Day manages to make the question of “why” so compelling that I found myself racing ahead, trying to tease out the dark motives of this group of characters. At the center of it all is Professor Amelia Emmet, cranky, smart, and damaged not quite beyond repair by both ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it
A strange novel. Not an unpleasant read by any means, but THE BLACK HOUR seemed profoundly confused about what it was trying to say. It's not before the second half of the novel I could make up my mind as to whether it was a literary novel about trauma, trust and relationships, a social novel about school shootings or just a mystery that takes the scenic route to its own content.

Lori Rader-Day's character driven approach is interesting, sporting two first-person narrator. The character of Ameli
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day 1 17 Sep 14, 2015 04:36PM  

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LORI RADER-DAY is the Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony Award and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of The Lucky One, Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she is the co-chair of the mystery reader conference Mu ...more

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