Notes on an Execution: Book summary and reviews of Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Notes on an Execution

A Novel

by Danya Kukafka

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka X
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Jan 25, 2022
    320 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

In the tradition of Long Bright River and The Mars Room, a gripping and atmospheric work of literary suspense that deconstructs the story of a serial killer on death row, told primarily through the eyes of the women in his life - from the bestselling author of Girl in Snow.

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he's done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn't want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood.

Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel's life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel's wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister's relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.

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

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] masterly thriller...Kukafka skillfully uses the second-person present tense to heighten the drama, and toward the end she makes devastatingly clear the toll taken by Packer's killings. Megan Abbott fans will be pleased." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Kukafka crafts a disturbingly remorseless killer in Packer but infuses the events that draw readers to his final moments with raw empathy and lingering questions about human evil and the destruction left in its wake." - Booklist (starred review)

"[D]eeply compassionate...A contemporary masterpiece that sits alongside The Executioner's Song and Victim: The Other Side of Murder in the library of crime literature." - Library Journal (starred review)

"The backstory-heavy structure results in a slow pace...the promise of the intriguing premise in the early chapters isn't sustained. An epilogue that imagines the unlived lives of the murdered girls subtracts more than it adds. A slow-paced portrait of a condemned serial killer and the women who disappointed him." - Kirkus Reviews

"In Notes on an Execution, Danya Kukafka gives us something wrenchingly original, a rare and unsettling reading experience that challenges us to peel back what we believe about the criminal justice system, good and evil, and what human beings are capable of, both in darkness and in light. A moving tour de force of empathy and insight. I loved this book." - Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of When the Stars Go Dark and The Paris Wife

"A searing portrait of the complicated women caught in the orbit of a serial killer. Notes on an Execution examines a culture that romanticizes men who kill while also exploring the lives of the overlooked women altered by this violence. Compassionate and thought-provoking." - Brit Bennett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half

"Spellbinding and beautifully written. Danya Kukafka's Notes on an Execution is an irresistible, unbearably tense thriller; a poignant, deeply compassionate tale of resilience; and a vital intervention in the way we talk about violent crime, its endless reverberations and foremost its survivors." - Megan Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Turnout

This information about Notes on an Execution shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Danya Kukafka

Danya Kukafka is the internationally bestselling author of Girl in Snow. She is a graduate of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She works as a literary agent.

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