Book Review: Notes on an Execution

01.25.2022 | William Morrow
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


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. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him. Through a kaleidoscope of women – a mother, a sister, a homicide detective – we learn the story of Ansel’s life. 

NOTES ON AN EXECUTION gives readers the narrative of a serial killer who wants to be known throughout the country and flips the script to focus on the trail he left behind through those connected to himself and his victims. This isn’t the story of Ansel, but the story of those whose lives he’s touched and the scars he’s left behind. I love that Kukafka balanced the narratives of the women in this story with glimpses into Ansel’s thoughts as the hours tick down to his execution. The way these stories weave together creates a meaningful and at times disturbing story that highlights how everything we do can impact those around us, from things we observe to the actions we take. While at its core this book is the story of Ansel, there’s so much more waiting here for readers. I was intrigued from the start of this book and consistently caught myself thinking about passages from it while not reading.

I dabbled a little in the audio of this one between reading my physical copy and would easily recommend both formats.

A huge thank you to William Morrow for my gifted copy!

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