review · U.S.

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver

execution noaThe Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver
Crown, June 2013

FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss.

In my quest to get out of my police-procedural rut, I picked up this debut novel that is the confessions of a woman who is on death row for murdering a young woman named Sarah. Noa meets the murder victim’s mother Marlene, who has hired a new lawyer in her own law firm to investigate a possible clemency petition to commute Noa’s sentence from death to life in prison. The novel is a series of flashbacks to Noa’s childhood, her crimes, and her nearly ten years going through the criminal justice system as she writes her story for her lawyer. There are some strange dynamics among Noa, Marlene, and the young lawyer Oliver in charge of her clemency petition.

The story didn’t really pick up steam for me until we reached Noa’s interrogation and trial, and I think it’s because I prefer legal drama to psychological drama. Character-wise, I wasn’t that drawn to the story at the beginning. This is a book that takes a long to show Noa’s character as well, and I think that is what slowed me down in the first half of the book.

I think people will read this book in order to talk about Noa’s character, especially because her character takes a long time to develop.  Also made for book club discussion are Noa’s asides about the strangeness of the felony-murder rule and the strangeness of trial procedure where the judge instructs the jury to disregard a previous statement. How can a jury really not consider the statement? That being said, for me, this book is more interesting to talk about than it was to read, and I think it’s because I’ve read too many books with strange twists lately. I’m ready for different sorts of narratives.

Other reviews appear in FictionFan’s Book Reviews and Crimespree Magazine.

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8 thoughts on “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver

  1. I agree this one would be good for discussion, especially since it seems to be one of those ones that divides opinion. Noa’s character was what made it for me, her sardonic humour in particular, and I think she could fairly be described as an unreliable narrator! Glad you enjoyed it to some extent though.

    1. I liked it, but I didn’t love it as so many other reviewers I’ve come across seem to, which is fine. Your point about humor is interesting because I find it really, really difficult to find people whose comedy recommendations in books/movies/tv shows I trust.

  2. This does sound interesting, but not really my cup of tea. You have provided a very good review of it, telling the pros and cons from your point of view. As my tastes are constantly evolving, maybe someday it will appeal. But then there are so many books to read … on my shelves.

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