MYSTERY

The Black Hour

Seventh St: Prometheus. Jul. 2014. 332p. ISBN 9781616148850. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616148867. M
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OrangeReviewStarChicago's Rothbert University was rocked when one of its sociology professors, Amelia Emmet, was shot randomly; the student attacker committed suicide immediately after. End of story. Readers enter as Amelia returns to teaching months later, determined to take ownership of her own mystery case. Teaching assistant Nathaniel Barber is protective, but covertly he wonders if Amelia might become his dissertation topic. A newspaper reporter has pursued her story since day one, and he hovers too closely for comfort. Finally, there is the suicide hotline staff who seem extra-zealous. All of these behaviors create an air of paranoia. Not until Amelia's memory begins to loosen does she realize that danger has not left the campus. A seriously scary sailing regatta on Lake Michigan brings it all home, vividly!
VERDICT With disconcerting timeliness (in the wake of recent shootings), Rader-Day captures the more sinister aspects of campus life. While the author captivates from page one with her psychologically attuned debut, it is the sociological frames that work so well: class, power, and violence. This reviewer was bowled over by the novel's alternating points of view, superb storytelling, and pitch-perfect take on academia. [A July LibraryReads pick, see p. 119.

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