The Lucky One By Lori Rader-Day: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Feb 29, 2020 | 2015 Articles, Lorie Lewis Ham, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Vicki Vass
& Lorie Lewis Ham

This week we have the pleasure of reviewing Lori Rader-Day’s new book The Lucky One, and we have an interesting interview with Lori. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of The Lucky One, and links to purchase it.

The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day
Review by Vicki Vass

Alice Fine is the lucky one. As a young girl, she was stolen from the backyard of her Indiana community, but her policeman father was able to find her and bring her home. That memory has haunted her, and now she spends her free time volunteering for a missing person website called The Doe Pages. When a man is reported on the site as missing, Alice recognizes him as her childhood kidnapper.

She turns to her friends on The Doe Pages to help unravel the mystery and find her kidnapper. In their search, she meets Merrily Cruz, a young woman searching for the same man. Their search will lead them down a murky path leading them to question everything they thought they knew to be true. lori rader day

At the same time, Alice’s ex-fiancé falls three stories from the parking garage that the construction company she works at is building in a seemingly unrelated tragedy. This secondary plot continues throughout the book and creates additional tension.

While the first part of the book focused on Alice’s and Merrily’s individual stories, the second part brings them together to join forces. For me that is when the story picked up, and I found myself more intrigued. The premise was definitely intriguing, but I felt distant from both characters and wasn’t pulled in as much as I would like to have been. Perhaps it was the alternating chapters which were told from Alice’s, Merrily’s, or the Doe Project’s chatroom, that created that distance from me. I have read so many suspense books recently with alternating viewpoints that it seems contrived to me. I found Alice’s viewpoint slightly more compelling than Merrily’s voice, but both characters felt a little flat to me. I did not find myself particularly vested in either.

The Lucky One starts off slow and gradually builds, picking up steam around the middle of the book when I couldn’t wait to finish. The two seemingly unrelated complex plot lines are wrapped up at the end, reaching a shocking, though satisfying conclusion. It was certainly full of twists and turns that I did not anticipate. I would recommend it to those looking for a suspenseful mystery.

Written by Lori Rader-Day, an Edgar-nominated author and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author, I found the writing deft. This was the first book I read by Rader-Day, and it won’t be my last as I found the storyline interesting and as a former Chicagoan, I appreciated the setting in The Lucky One.

Vicki Vass is the author of the Antique Hunters Mystery Series, the sixth book in the series, A White Rabbit’s Tale, was just released and can be found HERE on Amazon. She also writes the Witch Cat Mystery series.

Interview with Lori Rader-Day:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Lori: I started writing when I was a kid, but I didn’t take it seriously until a friend from high school published his first book, and I realized that publishing a book was a thing a writer from my background could do.

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called and will you tell us a little about it?

Lori: The Black Hour came out in 2014. It won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. I think you guys interviewed me for it!

Lori: I think you probably want to know about the new book: The Lucky One is the story of Alice Fine, who was kidnapped as a child and returned safely to her family. Because of that, she feels like she really dodged something and decides to try to help out with a website that works on cold missing persons cases. One day she sees a face she recognizes— it’s her kidnapper. She teams up with some amateur sleuths from the site to figure out where that guy is and why he’d targeted her, before he harms anyone else. (see review above)

Lori Rader-Day

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?

Lori: I wrote whatever came to me until a short story I was writing got long, and it turned into a crime story. It was a little surprising to have it called that at first, because I hadn’t thought of myself as a crime writer, even though I had always loved mysteries as a young reader. If I hadn’t discovered I was writing a crime book, I would have wandered around a long time trying to figure myself out.

I don’t know if I could say I would write a totally different genre. I want to write a lot of different kinds of stories as it is, so I would probably write a ghost story, then a historical story, then a spy story, then a comedy. I might try that anyway. I’m writing to amuse myself first and foremost.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Lori: The situation presented itself first. One day my new neighbor announced the reason she hated the fence between our houses was that she worried someone would lean over it and nab her little girl. I was dumbstruck, because it’s my job to worst-case-scenario everything and yet I hadn’t seen that one coming. She said, “Oh, it’s because I was kidnapped as a child.” I knew I had to write about that, and luckily, she was fine with it. Then the characters started forming, a woman who had gotten away as my neighbor had, and then another woman who had a different relationship to the kidnapper, so that I could approach it from different directions. In this novel, I decided early on to come home to Chicago after having written several books set in other places. It made sense for the story and gave me a varied landscape for the characters’ different backgrounds and jobs.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Lori: I write to entertain myself and then other people, but I definitely want readers to have something more than plot. I don’t start from that something more. I start from a character or a story, but eventually by the time I’ve drafted the thing, there always seems to be a layer I didn’t expect where the character is dealing with or thinking about or reacting to a social issue.

In, The Lucky One, the layer was sitting on top of the story for a change. The website Alice Fine works with is based on a real site called the Doe Network, which was used as a model for, the federal database for the missing and unidentified. According to, more than 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year, and 4,400 unidentified bodies are found. A case is considered cold when the person hasn’t been found or the body hasn’t been named in a year. The Doe Network relies on the time and effort of amateurs to try to make matches between missing and unidentified cases and getting as many cases of missing and unidentified entered into the database as possible, so that families of these people can get closure.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Lori: I don’t write every day except maybe when I’m on deadline, when I write for a few hours, usually in the afternoon. My discipline is pretty haphazard, but once I get started, it’s hard to stop until I’ve run out of brain cells or story.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Lori: I don’t outline ahead of time. I will reverse outlined as I write, if I remember to. That’s the sort of thing I might not do until I hit a wall and need to think things over for a while. I enjoy the discovery part of writing which I think I would have a hard time deriving from a story I had already fully outlined. That’s just a personal preference. I would tell another writer to do the work however they prefer to do it.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Lori: Not exactly. I got an agent on my first round of letters, within three weeks. But I had spent a great deal of time on revisions so that my draft was as good as I could make it. I spent a year just on revision. Most aspiring authors don’t like that story when I tell it, but it did make the agent search fast. My first book was rejected by a few presses before it found its home at a small publisher. Yes, it might have been nice to have started out with a big five, but I’ve been given the chance to build a career over time, which was always my goal.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Lori: When I got my first book deal, I was sitting at work. I had been living out this process at work, in fact, and my co-worker was highly involved in all the details. So, I ran down the hall to freak out to her that I had sold my book and then remember to call my husband! I will never live that down.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Lori: I signed books in the gift shop of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for my last book and that was great fun. My book Under a Dark Sky was set in Mackinaw City, just over on the mainland, and I had stayed at the Grand during a research trip, thanks to the Mackinac Island Library. The Grand is the coolest hotel, very grand indeed. It was fun to sign there.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Lori: See the part about writing a spy story. I did write something that I would have called a goal until I finally did it. My next book is set in 1941, a period crime novel set in England at Agatha Christie’s house. The whole thing has been very different for me, including the process. I wrote out of order and gave a lot of characters the chance to talk instead of one or two. After achieving this goal, I’m not sure entirely what to write next.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Lori: Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Shirley Jackson, Susan Orlean, TC Boyle and all the writers I loved as a kid: EL Konigsberg, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume. I wish I could meet Beverly Cleary; she’s the writer who made me realize I might be one. I did get to meet Judy Blume, a life’s dream realized.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Lori: I usually like to do research online or in books. That’s my setting normally. For, The Lucky One, I interviewed a couple of people connected to the Doe Network and then went to my hometown in Indiana to research a cold case of a missing girl from my childhood neighborhood. I’m not writing about that case specifically in the book, but I wanted to know what kind of information gets reported, what you can and can’t find. And I wanted to be reminded that real people were at the heart of a site like the Doe Network and books like those I write. I always want to remember that any story I write might have really happened to someone.

For my next book, I got to visit England and stay at Agatha Christie’s summer home, Greenway.

KRL: What do you read?

Lori: Everything. When I’m drafting my books, I usually try to read something very different, like nonfiction, essays, mainstream fiction or something light, like humor, graphic novels, or cozy mysteries.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Lori: Fleabag, GLOW, Stranger Things, Russian Doll, Vera, anything well written and weird or with murders in English villages. Movies I’ve liked recently: Booksmart, Knives Out. I’m a sucker for a Jane Austen movie. I do find it difficult to keep up with all the TV that it seems everyone else gets to watch. If I were a more disciplined writer, maybe I could get in more TV?

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Lori: Always. Take the time you need. Revise. Get people to give you feedback and listen to the advice that you hear over and over or get from reliable sources and from those who seem to get what you’re trying to do. Take a class. If there’s an association for your genre, join it and get involved. This is a big one for me. I joined Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America early, before I had a book drafted, and just hung out with mystery writers, asking questions and watching how it was all done. I wouldn’t have the career I have now without the community I found. Outside of mystery, you might have to rely on a writers’ group to get started or go to a workshop or conference and meet other writers. It’s good to have someone at the same point of their path as you are, or maybe one or two steps ahead.

KRL: Why is Sisters in Crime important for the development and promotion of women in the literary community?

Lori: Sisters in Crime started with a small group of women in 1986 led by Sara Parestky, frustrated about the amount of review coverage the crime fiction books by women could count on. It’s grown to an international organization of about 4,000 people – not all women – who come to Sisters in Crime to support women writers, to find a safe and welcoming space to learn the craft and business of writing, to find a community. Sisters in Crime is still about equality and inclusion, and we invite anyone to join and take an active role who loves crime fiction, including readers.

What I’ve gotten from Sisters in Crime is a network of smart and capable friends who I know I can turn to. It feels good to give back, as I was a newbie in publishing not so long ago, and this community has always been willing to help me get what I needed, even if it was just an idea of what it means to be a working writer today.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?


To enter to win a copy of The Lucky One, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “lucky,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 7, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week!

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Great interview! Count me in!

  2. Loving the cover and would love a chance to win it. Thanks for your great generosity.

  3. Great interview. I love knowing where people get their inspiration for their books and this one was particularly intriguing.

  4. Enjoyed the interview. The book sounds compelling. Thanks.

  5. New author to me. Would really like to read.

  6. Enjoyed the post, new author for me! Sounds good.

  7. Sounds fantastic. Thanks for the chance.

    positive DOT ideas DOT 4you AT gmail DOT com

  8. We have a winner!


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