Tag Archives: Lori Rader-Day

A day in the life of Anna Winger by Lori Rader-Day

Today’s work comes from one of my lovelorn. She’s looking for Mr. Right, but unfortunately, she’s shopping the local penitentiary. Her new pen pal has a tight-fisted scribble that leans backward, antisocially. The bowls of his o’s and a’s are narrow and closed off, the angle of his vertical strokes, short daggers. It must be a painfully slow hand. The man has all the time in the world to write a letter. How generous that he spends his time on her.

Generosity is the best thing I can think to say, but I won’t. If I produce even one positive attribute to this serial killer scrawl, that’s what she’ll cling to, and what I need her to know is that he’s hiding something in every line he writes to her. He’s a liar. And who knows what he’s actually in prison for? They never say, when they write to me. They keep all the stories to themselves when they ask me to pry into a handwriting sample. She’s even thoughtfully typed her own note to me, so I can’t take a look at the secrets she might be hiding. All I know: he’s trouble, and she’s paying me for that truth.

She’s not paying me much. I mean, these lonelyhearts make up such a small portion of my work that I probably shouldn’t bother. The meaty jobs that put money in Joshua’s college fund are for corporations looking for the right executive, the one who won’t get caught with underage girls or shoot up in his office. Human resources, that’s what I call that line of income, and it’s a good one. The other area is law enforcement: ransom notes, forgeries in things like contracts and pre-nups. Most of that work comes through my mentor and FBI contact Kent. The assignments are few and far between, and that’s fine. It’s strange working this side of the law, but then I’m just a third-party vendor when it comes to law enforcement. Better than being the victim, the one answering the door to the cops after the fuss has died down, pulling down the sleeves of my shirt to hide the bruises forming there.

Anything is better than that.

The work keeps me close to that line between order and lawlessness—too close, sometimes. Like tomorrow’s assignment, when I’m supposed to meet the local sheriff of this two-bit town Joshua and I have moved to. I saw on the news some kid is missing. He must need help with that. Kent didn’t say.

I say two-bit town as though it’s a bad thing. I tried to live in a big city. Chicago—that’s where we just moved from. And no question, it was easy to live an unexamined life there. With so many people around, no one has any time to notice you. Except someone did. We were on the Magnificent Mile that day, like tourists in our own town, when someone from up near home, I guess, wandered into my line of sight. She was wearing a Sweetheart Lake sweatshirt. And she recognized me. I must have seemed like a ghost to her.

But no one like that would ever come here. Here, to this no-name town, where they’ve stripped the land of any old-growth trees, where the only thing that reminds me of home is the roadside ice cream hut out by the highway. Just like home. And sometimes, you need a reminder or two of home. So that you don’t get comfortable, like we did in Chicago. So you don’t forget that you can never go back there. So that you don’t forget why you left.


You can read more about Anna in The Day I Died.

From the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother’s desperate search for a lost boy.

Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.

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About the author
Lori Rader-Day, author of The Day I Died (forthcoming 2017), The Black Hour, and Little Pretty Things, is the recipient of the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches mystery writing at StoryStudio Chicago and is the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.

All comments are welcomed.

The Day I Died is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Day I Died. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends April 12, 2017. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day published by William Morrow Paperbacks, April 11, 2017.

the-day-i-diedFrom the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother’s desperate search for a lost boy.

Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.

Anna is called upon to analyze the handwriting found on a note and when the case turned strikingly similar to her own life, she too begins to have fear as this mystery keeps getting deeper and deeper. The narrative is so powerfully written that I become enthralled in the play-by-play action from the start in this intriguing and fast-paced drama. The author has a way with painting a story that pushes the envelope with intensity that kept me on my toes as I sorted out what was going on and had my adrenaline pumping for every corner turned with anticipation. This is another riveting and engaging read from Lori Rader-Day.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the author.

A Day in the Life of Juliet Townsend by Lori Rader-Day

Little Pretty  ThingsIf you’re going to spend the day with me, you’ll have to take the baseboards.

I hate cleaning the baseboards and, for some reason, all the women who stay at the Mid-Night Inn are crazy about clean baseboards. But we don’t get that many women here, really. Most of the guests—our manager Billy makes us call them that, not “customers”—are guys. Guys and bickering families with a bunch of kids, all with sticky hands.

We only get two kinds of guests at the Mid-Night Inn, anyway: Desperate people who can’t quite make it to another, better place further down the road and coupon clippers looking for the cheapest, lowest-rent option they can find. We’re cheap, sure. But that’s because the baseboards might come with a little dust, OK?

Lu doesn’t mind the baseboards, so she does a better job when she’s on the cleaning cart and I’m behind the front desk. To pay her back, I get the higher stuff she can’t reach when I’m on the cart, cobwebs on the second floor walkway and stuff like that. If you spend a day with me, you’ll spend it with Lu, too. Lu and me—we make a good team. We have fun making fun of Billy, goofing off, talking about the things we wish we were doing, other than cleaning at a crapheap roadside motel. Lu is pretty much my best friend, even though she’s older than I am and has three kids and a husband. I have none of that—just me and my mom. But I’ve been friends with people I had lot in common with before, and it didn’t stick. Like, everything in the world in common, and then poof, she’s out of my life forever.

It’s weird to think about that now, how I used to have a best friend and now—who knows where she is? Well, I heard she lives in Chicago, actually. Maddy Bell. Probably has a great life, everything she ever wanted. She was always prettier, always had Beck, her boyfriend, hanging all over her. I got better grades, maybe, and got into less trouble. Not that any of that ever panned out. But she was always braver than I was and, yeah, on the track team, she was always a split second faster.

It’s crazy the difference a split second can make.

Ten years. Our high school reunion is coming up. I don’t plan on going, but I wonder . . . well, it doesn’t matter. I wonder a lot of things. What would have been different if I’d won a couple of those races back in school? What would I be doing if I hadn’t left college after one semester? If my dad hadn’t died and my mom hadn’t been so sad all this time? What if—but I could spend the next ten years playing that game. The game nobody really wins.

If I were Maddy Bell, I would never come back here. But what if she does? What if she walks through the front door of the Mid-Night some night? Maddy Bell, all big time and as beautiful as ever?

I don’t know what I’d do, but I bet it wouldn’t be pretty.


You can read more about Juliet in Little Pretty Things, published by Seventh Street Books.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 13 for the chance to win a print copy of Little Pretty Things. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

About the author
Lori Rader-Day’s debut mystery, The Black Hour, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Her short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. Little Pretty Things is her second book. She lives in Chicago. Visit Lori at www.loriraderday.com

A Day in the Life Amelia Emmet by Lori Rader-Day

The Black HourToday is the day I’m reclaiming my life.

Ten months ago, some kid, a student at Rothbert University I’d never met or taught in class, tried to take it from me. And then he succeeded in taking his own. I guess I should feel bad about that kid, but he didn’t leave me much room for sympathy. I’m 38, a tenured professor at a prestigious university. I’ve come a long way from where I started. And today I have to hobble onto campus like a witch from a Grimm’s fairy tale, on a cane, and try to take back what was mine.

Honestly? I can’t think about that kid much at all. Is it self-centered to be thinking of yourself when you’re the one who got shot for no reason whatsoever and had to give up a year of your career to physical therapy and pain? What I’m thinking about is that long walk up from the parking lot to my building. What I’m thinking about is that first moment when I see someone I know, and here I am, broken and diminished. And—Doyle. I’m thinking about Doyle a lot these days, even though I was the one who sent him away.

That might have been a mistake. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life. That’s the one thing you get from facing your own mortality. Perspective. I was never one for putting up with nonsense, but now that I’ve come through the other side, I don’t want to waste any more time. Also: now I know who my friends are. Doesn’t the saying go that you only need one true friend? I guess I have that.

They’re going to stare, aren’t they? The students. The faculty. People stare when I go to the grocery store, when I walk down the street—which I try not to do. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t take much to become the wrong kind of celebrity in this little ’burb. Everyone seems to know who I am. My fifteen minutes of fame are getting used up on this. It’s almost like I’m not human anymore, like I belong to the public now, instead of to myself.

Like—some wiseacre calls me every morning at 2 a.m. just to breathe into the phone.

It’s not a problem. I’m usually awake, anyway.

So they’ll stare. It’s human nature to stare. I bet I could do my next sociological study on it. If I wanted to.

Let them stare. Let them talk behind their hands. I already know what they think was going on between me and that student. Let them try to take my life from me. This time, I’ll be holding on with both hands.


You can read more about Amelia in The Black Hour, Lori’s debut novel, published by Seventh Street Books which is available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 14 for the chance to win a copy of THE BLACK HOUR. (US entries only, please.)

Meet the author
Lori Rader-Day is the author of the mystery The Black Hour, out July 8 from Seventh Street Books. Born and raised in central Indiana, she now lives with her husband and dog in Chicago. Best-selling author Jodi Picoult chose one of Lori’s short stories for the grand prize in Good Housekeeping’s first fiction contest. Other stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, The Madison Review, and others. Visit her at LoriRaderDay.com, on Facebook or on Twitter.


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The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day

The Black HourThe Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day. Publisher: Seventh Street Books, July 2014

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.

Lori Rader-Day has delivered a spellbinding tour de force that had me completely immersed in the pages contained in this fast-paced drama. The words written, the emotions displayed across the pages, the thirst to know why it happened, Amelia and her struggles, the people that surrounded her, the truth and the outcome all came together in this mesmerizing and suspenseful thriller that was hard to put down and simply blew me away. This is a terrific read from beginning to end and I can’t wait to read more from this author.