I went in to this book so wary! I’m not a huge fan of serial killers or the true crime mania that glorifies men who murder (mostly) women. So even though I’d seen glowing review after breathless recommendation of Notes On an Execution, I doubted I’d get past 20%. I am never so pleased to be wrong than when it comes to loving an unexpected book.
The premise of this one is simple, it is the day of Ansel Power’s execution. There are brief chapters counting down his final hours in between chapters told from three women’s perspectives – Lavender, Ansel’s mother, Saffy, the detective who hunts him, and Hazel, his sister-in-law. And, yes, Ansel is technically the main character, but the book is much more about these other characters, their rich and detailed and often heartbreaking lives, Ansel is simply the ghost that haunts them all.
That was why I loved this. I don’t find men hating women, men torturing women, men being glorified for evil all that interesting. And Danya Kukafka removed all of that from this story. She gave us the really compelling bits – the beauty that was stolen, the lives that could have been, the futures lost, the damage done to the survivors. She recentered the women. The ones who deserve to be known and who so very rarely are.
The writing was wonderful, I appreciated her ability to set a scene or evoke a sensation economically. I raced through it, driven to find out what the next layer to the story would be. As soon as I finished, I texted friends the authors note and a simple ADD TO YOUR TBR STAT. I recommend you do the same.