THE BLACK HOUR by Lori Rader-Day Is An Amazing Mystery Too

debballmysteryI love the posts about Lori’s THE BLACK HOUR this week. Natalia, Susan, and Heather have said everything I was thinking about this wonderful novel. In fact, I was hard pressed to come up with a unique topic. My issue — which is a non-issue — is that I read The Black Hour straight through, my critical brain on hiatus because I enjoyed the story that much. As a result, I was left with an overall good feeling and a bunch of awe. I closed the book feeling replete.

We’ve mentioned the campus environment, the characterization, the first person point of views, the wit. I’d like to talk about the story — the mystery. Because, my friends, this is a damned good mystery too. More than that, as award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan said, it’s a “whydunnit.”

The central plot question is: Why did a student professor Dr. Amelia Emmet didn’t know shoot her? Was the violence truly random or was there some connection — however tenuous — between Amelia and the troubled youth?

There’s also the other point of view character, Nathaniel, who for reasons of his own also wants to discover the truth about the shooting incident and cozies up to Amelia with his own agenda in mind.

As if these two amazing characters weren’t enough, Lori also introduces us to a fascinating cast that includes a cultish leader of a campus suicide watch group and an enigmatic rich kid. All of Lori’s characters are fleshed out, and all of them add to the mystery, the big “why” at the center of the story. None of them are exactly what they seem.

The characters and their various stories converge at the end with some fabulous surprises that I didn’t see coming. I love it when novels the end well, don’t you? By “well” I mean that Lori kept every promise she made to the reader.

Also, before I forget, I’d like to add that I loved Amelia. In the wrong hands, she could have come across as whiny or self-pitying — just downright annoying — because she is a bonafide victim, after all. Thankfully, what we’ve got instead is a protagonist who gets drunk in the student pub and imagines poking her ex’s new wife in the stomach with her cane. She’s got a sly sense of humor, even at one point quipping that she’d rather shoot herself than join a book club with a bunch of women.

If Amelia were real, I’d probably be friends with her.

Congratulations to Lori on a phenomenal book launch!

So what does a book well-ended mean for you?

Author: Lisa Alber

Lisa Alber is the author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (March 2014). Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging at Lisa Alber's Words at Play round out her distractions. Visit her at

9 Replies to “THE BLACK HOUR by Lori Rader-Day Is An Amazing Mystery Too”

  1. “By ‘well’ I mean that Lori kept every promise she made to the reader.”

    That’s exactly it. Some people seem to think there’s a formula — that all mysteries need to be solved and all questions answered and all couples together and happy. But that’s not always the promise the writer makes, and that’s not always the best ending. I talked about that on my blog a while back:

    I was just watching Three Days of the Condor, a conspiracy thriller from the 1970s that I managed to miss at the time. It was a big influence on the recent Captain America movie. It was really good, and it had a perfect ending — ambiguous, in a way that you couldn’t get away with today (especially not in a blockbuster superhero movie). But it definitely kept the promise that the movie had made until then.

    1. Anthony! I couldn’t agree with you more. I actually like an ambiguous, or at least a not so black-and-white ending.

      Have to admit, I haven’t see Three Day of the Condor … I’ll have to check it out!

  2. Lisa, lucky you because you read the Black Hour. I wondered why I could not find the book in the bookstores /libraries. Now I know why ~ because it was not released until recently.

    Yesterday, I heard the term “whydunnit” in a Goodreads interview with one of my favorite authors.

    Hope to find Lori’s book soon.

    1. Hi Diana — thanks for visiting today. You’ll dig THE BLACK HOUR. I’d save it for a leisurely weekend because if you’re like me, you won’t be able to put it down!

  3. I seen this book on the goodreads but it down as a need to read!!!!!!! Just need to get to the book store to buy it!! Hopefully this week end.

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