I recently finished Elizabeth L Silver‘s The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, and I have to admit that I hate every single character–but–in a good way.
Before I get to that let me provide you with a brief synopsis: Noa P. Singleton is on death row. She barely stood up for herself at her trial and didn’t lift a finger to help with her appeals. Enter Marlene Dixon, mother of the now deceased Sarah Dixon, who suddenly wants to plead for clemency on Noa’s behalf. Marlene wants to know what really happened, or so she says, and you’ll soon find out–she’s not the only one with secrets.
So what do we have here? Another run of the mill crime story? Not in my opinion. I believe the idea of executing a truly innocent character plagues many minds in the US when it comes to the death sentence.
Noa P Singleton is an interesting character. She keeps secrets that would have exonerated her to protect people she barely knows but she won’t help herself. Her father, a dead beat with a dive bar who didn’t make contact with her until she was in her late 20’s, also does not come forward to help her. Two women she just met, Marlene and Sarah Dixon, have attitudes out the wazoo, unjustifiably so as far as I’m concerned.
In the middle of the novel, just a few months away from her scheduled execution date, we are faced with a question which will change how we view the rest of the novel: Do we trust Noa?
Truthfully, the stories Noa shares with us from her past make us simultaneously sympathetic and suspicious. In her opening speech to the reader, she admits that her memories are starting to fade, an admission which makes her an unreliable narrator. Further proof exists within the novel as more facts about her past unfold.
But back to my hatred for every character. I hate them because I am supposed to. This is not a case of poorly written human condition. This is a book about people who need to be punched in the face with a chair. Silver does a marvelous job of keeping me guessing about characters’ motives and intentions throughout the novel and I often stayed up late trying to finish the story faster.
I give The Execution of Noa P Singleton 4/5 stars and challenge you, readers, to make the choice for yourself. Is Noa innocent? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
I received a free copy from Blogging for Books.