This is the story of a serial killer told through the eyes of the women in his life. This was a hard read at times but overall I could not put it down. I would definitely read another by Danya Kukafka because this was incredible.
Outstanding read! This book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
So thought provoking and from several perspectives.
Learning how Ansel came into the world. Details of his life before becoming a killer.
This was incredible and couldn’t put it down. Danya Kukafka really knows how to write a story that draws you in and you can’t put down the book until the story has been told.
Sadly, because of a brutal father, Ansel's mother ran off and left Ansel and his baby brother to be brought up in the foster system. Now, years later, Ansel is awaiting execution for the murder of several young women, Izzy, Angela, Lila, and Jenny.
This story is told in alternating voices - from the women whose lives were affected by Ansel: Lavender-his mother, Saffy-the cop who tracked him, and Hazel-the twin sister of his wife, as well as Ansel as he contemplates his last hours.
This book allows us to hear from the women who are affected by trauma and tragedy, how it changes the trajectory of their lives. The author wrote this book so that we don't focus on the serial killer, but rather on the women whose lives were cut short. Tragic, but beautifully written to honor the lives lost by monsters.
I've tried and tried but this type of thriller just isn't for me. I did appreciate how fully the author developed the characters, but I just couldn't manage any empathy for most of them.
Wonderful, thought provoking book! I love books I can’t predict, and this poignant story kept me guessing. I connected to the characters & really cared about them!
This book. Oh, this book. I am definitely one of those people who watch and read about true crime. Whether it's from the years I spent working on my Masters in Criminal Justice or just my curiosity about what makes people do what they do, I am all in. Notes on an Execution was a phenomenal read. And, while we did learn about the serial killer, we got to spend more time hearing from his victims or their family members--and even his own mother. This book was so emotional, it took me all over the place while I was reading. And when the end finally came for the serial killer, it was almost a relief that this person can no longer destroy any more lives. This has to be one of my favorite books I've read so far in 2023--I just wish I had gotten to it sooner!
This is a story of a man on death row. But it's told from the perspective of the women in his life.
The writing is beautiful, and the story is heartbreaking. I highly recommend this.
This one hit me in all the feels. I was a roller coaster of emotions. I would recommend it with a caveat of looking up trigger warnings before reading.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy. This is my honest review.
Notes on an execution is tragically beautiful story. I loved everything about this book, the way it was written, the characters. A very unique book. A story of choices made and how they effected everyone. Told from different perspectives each one flowing into the next and all connected. I think this would make an amazing movie
I wanted to keep reading this book. From the very beginning you know that Ansel Parker is awaiting death. He has been given the death penalty and has 12 hours left in his life as he knows it. There are alternating chapters from Ansel as he shares his thoughts with 12 hours left to live, interspersed with chapters from three women.
One of those women is Lavender, his mother that chose her life when she was faced with no other choices when Ansel was only four years old. We learn her story and why she made the choices she did.
Another woman is Hazel, the twin sister of Ansel's wife, Jenny. She's spent her life in Jenny's shadow and as a result, often saw things that others didn't.
The third woman is Saffron, who is now a police investigator but knew Ansel back when they were in foster care together.
Together they piece together different views of Ansel and how he fit into their lives.
There is no real mystery in this book, as it is clear that Ansel killed and is now set to be killed, but the way the story is told is just so interesting. The author did a great job with each viewpoint.
It's not often I say this, but this book haunted me. Notes on an Execution is a startling story that will drag you down in the best ways. Pick it up, you won't be disappointed.
We know up front that Ansel Packer is a serial killer and has 12 hours to live. As the hours pass, we learn about his life through his eyes, and those of three women: his mother, his ex-wife's sister, and a homicide detective. We see how he's so successful at manipulating women, including a female prison guard, but has made terrible decisions throughout the course of his life.
The author tackles some very difficult issues, with especially graphic detail about the tragedies of abusive parents and the foster care system. She clearly poses the mystery of how some children were able to survive the system and become productive adults, while others were not.
The structure of the book worked for me as the chapters of his countdown to execution alternated with his past and his victims. It created a wonderfully compulsive tension that kept me reading.
There were some elements of the book that were distracting, such as Saffy's conflict over her heritage, and the bungling efforts of the police department bogged down the story a bit in the middle.
The last portion of the book poses some interesting questions to think about: how successful is the criminal justice system? Why do we remember victims of crime as just the victim (versus the whole person) and what drives people to idolize serial killers? I don't recall reading a book before about a serial killer, but can say this was a thoughtful and balanced way to present the story.
Thanks to Netgalley, the Book Club Girl Early Read program, and HarperCollins for the opportunity to read Notes on an Execution. It's a story that I expect will stay with me for some time.
Haunting! This was a dark and desperate story of a serial killer and the women that knew him. It left me with some unanswered questions but I thought the writing was excellent.
I thought this book was written in a very interesting way. We see short snippets through the eyes of Ansel, the killer in his last hours before execution. Most of the book shows his past, through the eyes of women that were part of his life during various years. The reader sees the many hardships he endured throughout his life, and bits of his progression from troubled child to killer. It's rare for me to read a crime related book and feel bad for the killer, but I definitely felt bad for Ansel when reading about his past. A very interesting and well written book. I'd definitely be interested in checking out more from this author.
Inside the head of a serial killer. Ansel Packer is on death row and time is counting down until he enters the death chamber. His thoughts are in second person narrative voice. Other points of view are in third person. Even though you know who the killer is up front, the mystery of his upbringing, his wife and supporting characters are fleshed out. For fans of true crime and shows such as Criminal Minds, this is a winner.
This was a surprising book with a lot to unpack.
It is. the story of Ansel on death row 12 hours prior to his execution. We learn of his life through the lives of 3 women.
Lavender is Ansel's mother that had to abruptly leave him and his brother when he was 4 years old. Lavender was a teen mother and her partner Johnny was a very controlling and abusive man. She gets him to take her for a drive after years of not being allowed to leave the house and she gets away from him a convenience store.
Saffron is a foster child that was in the same group home as Ansel was when they were 11. There is a very disturbing incident between them that sparks Saffron's desire to become a state trooper.
Hazel is a twin and her sister Jenny is Ansel's college sweetheart. Hazel and Jenny are fraternal twins, but they have a very close bond. Hazel feels that Jenny is the perfect twin and she is less special.
There are many themes in this book that provoke a lot of thought. There are several tough topics to contemplate as well.
This was a well constructed plot that sucks you in and keeps you going to the end to see how things turn out.
Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for this ARC.
This was a hard to read book. Through all the different viewpoints you really never knew how to feel. This is an uncomfortable book that deals with a very uncomfortable idea.
This book is about the last day of Ansel Packer's life before he is executed as a serial killer. Three characters guide us through Ansel's life, his mother; Hazel, his sister-in-law; and, Saffy, the detective. They each share what they know about the time that Ansel was part of their life. Through their recollections one can piece together an understanding of why Ansel did what he did.
All of the characters in this book are damaged by circumstances beyond their control. Some make their peace with their lives and just try to do better for their children, others thrive in their second chance stories, and Ansel. he cannot stop hearing the crying baby and wondering what happened to his mother.
Serial killer Ansel Packer has twelve hours to live on death row. The story of his life is told in alternating chapters between his own thoughts and motives and the thoughts and experiences of his mother, his wife’s twin sister, and the homicide detective that investigated his case. This well-written novel is chilling and compelling. The emphasis on the women in his life is particularly powerful.