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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.

Reviews

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, author of Dare Me
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, bestselling author of The Vanishing Half
Reading Danya Kukafka's Notes on an Execution is a profound and staggering experience of empathy that challenges us to confront what it means to be human in our darkest moments. The stories of these richly drawn characters are layered like nesting dolls, each one revealing more about how we love and how we survive. Kukafka's prose, alive and poetic, is unforgettable. I relished every page of this brilliant and gripping masterpiece
Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push
Provocative, intelligent, thrilling, moving
Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
Notes On An Execution is seriously important crime fiction that trains the lens on a serial killer's victims rather than on the criminal himself and shows how the legacy of violence endures decades and leaves a tidal wave of collateral damage in its wake. Kukakfa's story is unflinching and unromantic, yet wrenching and devastating in equal measure. Never falling into the easy trap of sensationalism, Notes On An Execution pushes women to the forefront of a narrative that has too often overlooked them and all they suffer
Ivy Pachoda, author of These Women
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, author of The Paris Wife
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
Publishers Weekly, starred review
A killer is on death row but this is not his story. It's the narratives of three women affected by his actions: his mother, Lavender; his ex-wife's sister, Hazel; and the female detective, Saffy, who tracked him down. Exploring the effects of violence by men and the worlds that are ruined, this is a breakout book for 2022
Stylist, Books you can’t miss in 2022
This author, who was Good Housekeeping book of the year winner with Girl In Snow, returns with a sledge-hammer of a thriller. As a killer awaits his execution on death row, we hear from three women affected by his actions: his mother, Lavender, his ex-wife Hazel and the detective who caught him
Good Housekeeping, The books we're looking forward to in 2022
At once blistering with righteous anger and radical empathy, Notes on an Execution is destined to become a contemporary classic.
Esquire