For Chicago sociology professor Amelia Emmet, violence was a research topic--until a student she'd never met shot her. He also shot himself. Now he's dead and she's back on campus, trying to keep up with her class schedule, a growing problem with painkillers, and a question she can't let go: Why? All she wants is for life to get back to normal, but normal is looking hard to come by. She's thirty-eight and hobbles with a cane. Her first student interaction ends in tears (hers). Her fellow faculty members seem uncomfortable with her, and her ex--whom she may or may not still love--has moved on. Enter Nathaniel Barber, a graduate student obsessed with Chicago's violent history. Nath is a serious scholar, but also a serious mess about his first heartbreak, his mother's death, and his father's disapproval. Assigned as Amelia's teaching assistant, Nath also takes on the investigative legwork that Amelia can't do. And meanwhile, he's hoping she'll approve his dissertation topic, the reason he came to grad school in the first place: the student attack on Amelia Emmet. Together and at cross-purposes, Amelia and Nathaniel stumble toward a truth that will explain the attack and take them both through the darkest hours of their lives. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Sociology professor Amelia Emmet, the heroine of Rader-Day's exceptional debut, returns to Rothbert University, near Chicago, 10 months after a student shot her and killed himself. Struggling with physical and mental problems caused by her injuries, Amelia is equally aware of irony: she's a scholar of violence in society, yet has no idea why she was attacked, had no acquaintance with the perpetrator, and only the sketchiest of memories of the incident. Nathaniel "Nath" Barber, her teaching assistant and student of Chicago's gangland past, is eager to investigate and soon links the shooter with associates of Rothbert's suicide hotline. Meanwhile, a reporter seems too conveniently at hand when trouble arises, an eccentric array of campus colleagues are inclined to blame the victim, and a scion of Rothbert's founder may have taken entitlement to a new extreme. Chapters that alternate between Amelia and Nath's viewpoints provide an irresistible combination of menace, betrayal, and self-discovery.