Notes on an Execution

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Pub Date 3 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 3 Mar 2022

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Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours.

He knows what he's done, and now awaits the same fate he forced on those girls, years ago. Ansel doesn't want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood.

But this is not his story.

As the clock ticks down, three women uncover the history of a tragedy and the long shadow it casts. Lavender, Ansel's mother, is a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation. Hazel, twin sister to his wife, is forced to watch helplessly as the relationship threatens to devour them all. And Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, is devoted to bringing bad men to justice but struggling to see her own life clearly.

This is the story of the women left behind.

Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes On An Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our cultural obsession with crime stories, and asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the minds of violent men.

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours.

He knows what he's done, and now awaits the same fate he forced on those girls, years ago. Ansel doesn't want to die; he wants to be celebrated...

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ISBN 9781474625951
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 44 members

Featured Reviews

This book is beautiful in every way. the cover is beautiful, the writing is beautiful and the storylibe is beautifully raw and emotive, The content is raw, real and ferocious and will leave the reader thinking about this book for a long time, I know I havent been able to stop thinking about it. This book is a triumph I loved it.

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Ansel Parker is on Death Row, scheduled to die in twelve hours.

This isn't just the story of the condemned man. As his final hours tick by the novel jumps back in time to moments from Ansel's life, we meet his mother, see his childhood and learn the stories of the women he is convicted of murdering.

We know he is sentenced to die and there is a truly inspired thriller plot uncovering the events, over decades that lead to Ansel's crimes, arrest and conviction.

The timeline of events is handled with a crafted perfection, involving the reader deeply with the various characters throughout Ansel's life.

Danya Kukafka achieves that rare feat, a careful balance between all the various timelines while twisting and looping and interweaving them to create a rich and deeply involving plot. I found it lusciously addictive, wherever we are in the timeline with whichever character all the elements and stories are compulsively readable. I had to know the bigger picture but was locked into every individual strand.

We know from that start that Ansel Parker is sentenced to die in twelve hours time, but the story of his crimes and the efforts required to bring him to justice form a compelling, intelligent and deeply emotionally involving thriller.

This book is a work of genius. In regards to the timeline and multiple threads, the only times I've ever known them be used so effectively is in Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and in various books by Catherine Ryan Howard.

Notes On An Execution deserves all the accolades and comparisons with the best ever books in the genre.

An absolute must read.

Very possibly my favourite book that I've read this year.

Thanks to Netgalley and Orion Publishing

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Wow, what a read. I have both wanted to race through this as it was so compelling and brilliantly written… but also had to take regular breaks to draw breath as it is do powerfully delivered and the content really delivers a blow.

This a the story of a man on Death Row. Except it’s not. It’s the story of the women whose lives have been torn apart by the crimes he has committed. His mother, a sister and the lead detective all get centre stage. But so do the cast of other women whose lives he has impacted and shattered.

Through brilliant fiction we are able to ponder the ever present questions of whether someone is born bad, whether a bad person can be good, or a good person be bad. We can debate the whole issue of the death penalty. We can assess the impact of a persons early years on their later actions. We can do all of this whilst being immersed in the stories of these women.


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Oh my. What a book. This one took me totally by surprise.
The story of a killer on death row, his life and more importantly the women in his life, this was an utterly mesmerising read.

A beautifully woven tapestry of characters and story as we jump back and forward in time, read the spiel on it if you want but I went in blind, pulled in by the title alone.

The writing here is exceptional both in its storytelling and some beautifully descriptive prose. There is a melancholy throughout in the tone that was truly hypnotic. I’m more of a story over writing style kinda guy but I just loved loved loved the writing here. I found myself on many occasions reading back a sentence or two, not because I hadn’t taken them in or understood them, they were just so beautifully descriptive and worded I just had to read them again for the shear enjoyment.

On a broader scale the book does look at the glamorisation of serial killers in modern society. The bogey men of our time that we tend to see in near mythical status, like rock n roll stars of sorts, here we have a rather underwhelming man, one without conscience for sure but an unglamorous, unhappy man.

The focus is more on the women in his life and the lasting devastation that is left in the wake of the small moments of time where he commits the acts of murder.

This isn’t a thriller per say. The killer for once is probably the least interesting of the characters here. That’s not to say that he isn’t well written and rounded. All the characters here are beautifully written and so ingrained in my brain after reading about them.

Enough of my rambling and not really explaining what the book is about. All you need to know is that I thought this book was a stunning piece of writing and storytelling. When I finished it I honestly wanted to read it all over again.

My easiest five stars of the year.

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC through Netgalley.

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The best book I read in 2021. I loved GIRL IN SNOW, but this is an absolute triumph from Kukafka and deserves every accolade it will surely receive next year. I would give this 10 stars if I could.

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