Dr. Dawn Walts Reviews ‘The Black Hour’ by Lori-Rader Day

Photo from amazon.com
Photo from amazon.com

The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day is one of those books that made me want to buy a whole bunch of copies to distribute to my friends. If you’re looking for a perfect gift for that reader in your life, check out The Black Hour.

The crime novel opens with sociology professor Amelia Emmet attempting to resume her academic career while still recovering from a violent attack from a student—a student who shot and killed himself after shooting her. With the identity of the shooter known, the central mystery of the novel is not “whodunnit?” but “whydunnit?”

As Emmet re-acclimates to her university life, she finds her colleagues suspicious and awkward with her victim status. It does not help matters that her memory of the attack is clouded, confused, and completely lacking in details that will help provide an explanation or even a coherent narrative. For a professor who studies violence, her inability to understand and process the attack is as frustrating as the physical limitations she faces in the wake of her injuries. Graduate student Nathaniel Barber, Emmet’s teaching assistant is equally curious about the motive behind the attack. Academic research quickly gives way to investigative legwork as the pair try to learn more about the shooter and his possible motive for wanting to kill Emmet.

The skillfully constructed plot and characters are complex enough to keep the reader engaged and intrigued without feeling overwhelmed and confused. Rader-Day’s prose is crisp and concise, never losing sight of the central storyline. Her ability to alternate point-of-view is masterful as is her ability to subtly reveal the subtext of her characters’ behavior in a realistically constructed academic setting; it is hard to believe this is her first novel. Violence and depression loom large in the narrative, but the characters are written with such clarity and purpose that the darkness never fully envelops them (or, thankfully, the reader). It’s one of those books you can’t put down and are sad to see come to an end.  Reading the novel is a thrilling ride that comes to an end satisfactorily, though all too quickly.

For more information about Lori Rader-Day, check out her website.

Classical Women: Professor Dawn Walts Profile by Sabrina Parr

Hello, everyone, and welcome to our installment, “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Dr. Dawn Walts, Lewis University English Professor. Lewis student Sabrina Parr interviewed Dr. Walts. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.

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Professor Dawn Walts is beloved by many of her students and as one of her students I can attest to this firsthand. Dr. Walts is always happy and upbeat in class, whether it is acting out a part of Beowulf or simply explaining a passage of text from Shakespeare. You can clearly see the love for reading shining out of Dr. Walts whenever she stands in front of her class; there is never a dull moment. Dr. Walts is like a book waiting to be read and we will do just that as we unpack her in the following profile.

Reading books is not something many people enjoy nowadays with all the distractions around. Smartphones make it easy to get the newest TV show right in your hand and why would you need a book when you can see it in front of you without any effort on your part? Dr. Dawn Walts is one of the few who still enjoys reading for fun. When asked where her favorite place to read is she replied, “I love reading on planes and trains.” Dr. Walts likes to be in motion. She likes to move while she reads, as she believes that reading provides the perfect escape to the crowded train or plane; although she is sitting, reading can transport her to someplace new or old. Books are a way of jumping out of our world and moving into someone else’s. Having a book in your hand is like holding a whole new world in your palm–all you have to do is open it and escape into it and all it has to offer.

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