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The Black HourThis debut novel tackles one of society’s ongoing horrors: random violence and its aftermath. Shot at point blank range, Chicago sociology professor Amelia Emmet struggles with crippling physical pain and the mental torment of not knowing why. The shooter takes his own life at the scene of the crime and is quickly identified as a student at the prestigious Rothbert University where Emmet teaches about and researches societal violence. But Emmet has never had the culprit in class and cannot fathom the reason she was targeted.

Moving between two narrators – Emmet and her new teaching assistant Nathanial Barber, a young man obsessed with the city’s violent history – Lori Rader-Day artfully pulls the story into focus as the new school year begins. Professor Emmet returns to campus convinced that she’s moved past the terrifying episode, but she hasn’t. As Barber digs into the story of the campus shooting and a determined reporter named Rory McDaniel begins dogging her steps, the tormented professor is drawn back into the nightmares and the need for answers.

The why of the shooting looms large in this psychological mystery whose twists and turns lay bare the infighting and seamier elements rife on the picturesque campus along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Just as powerful is the author’s message of how unfairly and cruelly fate can strike an innocent victim.

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