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Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Debut Proves Rader-Day Improves With Time

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's been 10 months since a student shot Dr. Amelia Emmett in the pelvis.  Although she's still walking with a cane, popping pain pills, and suffering from panic attacks, the professor is determined to get back in the classroom at Rothbert University.  Despite her colleagues' misgivings and the whispers that trail after her wherever she goes, Amelia aims to prove she's ready and able to reclaim her life.  No one needs to know that she's shaking in her high heels.  Just like no one needs to know how obsessed she is with the question why.  Why did the shooter—a kid Amelia had never met, never taught, never spoken to—choose her as his victim?  Why had he deliberately waited outside her office door with a gun?  Why had he tried to kill her before taking his own life?  None of it makes an ounce of sense.

Nathan Barber, a grad student in sociology, has come to Rothbert for one reason—to research Dr. Emmett.  Intending to do his dissertation on the shooting, he offers to be Amelia's teaching assistant in an effort to get closer to her.  When Amelia wises up to his plan, she can't keep herself from encouraging Nath to do some sleuthing around campus.  She wants to know why she was shot even more than he does.  But the clues Nath uncovers only create more questions and when the truth finally comes to light, it will be even more shocking than either Amelia or Nath ever imagined.

I've enjoyed a couple of Lori Rader-Day's newer novels, so I was interested to see how her debut, The Black Hour, compared.  I liked it least of the ones I've read because although it boasts a compelling premise, the story plods along slowly, with the action only picking up at the end.  A few times, I almost put the book down.  In addition to a sluggish plot, the main characters are pretty blah.  Amelia's sympathetic, but not very likable.  Nath's just boring (admittedly so).  The book's vibe doesn't help—it's dark and depressing.  Considering all this, why did I keep reading?  Well, it's the same question that haunted Amelia and Nath—why?—that kept me turning pages.  In the end, though, I didn't find The Black Hour all that satisfying.  I finished it, but I definitely didn't love it.  The good news is I know for certain that Rader-Day's novels improve with time!

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), mild sexual content, violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Black Hour from Changing Hands Bookstore with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. This sounds frustrating! The premise is really interesting but it doesn't sound like the execution was everything it could have been.

  2. I like the premise of this, so it’s disappointing that the execution doesn’t work

  3. I really like Lori Rader-Day's books and she's very funny in person. I've had this one on my Kindle for a long time, but never gotten to it. Have read later ones and am looking forward to a new one next month. Anyway, as it's a debut, I'll concur on the idea that her writing has improved. Glad to read your thoughts on this one.

  4. Oh dear, I was thinking this sounded so interesting and timely, but won't read it if it's plodding.


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