Notes on an Execution; Danya Kukafka
William Morrow and Harper Audio - 2022
(combo read/listen) (9 hours 42 min.)
(Mozhan Marno and Jim Meskimen - narrators - very good)
Notes on an Execution caught my eye early on. It is a work of fiction about a serial killer named Ansel Parker sentenced to death for killing several girls years earlier. The story begins with Parker on death row in Texas, 12 hours prior to his execution. Ansel does not want to die, he does want others to understand his story. As the countdown to his execution plays out we learn of Ansel's past beginning with his mother Lavender, an abused young woman who gave birth to him in a barn at the age of 17 and, then later in pure desperation left him and his infant brother. We also hear from Hazel, the twin sister of Ansel's wife Jenny who had an early concern for her sister's well being as she saw the ugly side of Ansel when her sister did not. Then there is Saffy, an upstate New York police captain whose job it was to see that justice was served. The two have a shared past in a group home as teens and Saffy also saw the darker side of what turned out to be a serial killer in the making.
This is a dark, exceptionally well written novel which is very different from anything I've read in a long while. The victims themselves were not well explored but, that in no way detracted from the effectiveness of the story. I never understood how Ansel Parker was able to do what he did yet, his story was still sometimes sad, compelling and ultimately powerful. I was satisfied with the way the story played out. This is one of those stories I will not easily forget; it left me with plenty to think about. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy a darker character driven work of crime fiction.
(eGalley courtesy of publisher and Edelweiss - audiobook download from my public library)
Rating - 4.5/5 stars
The Days of Afrekete; Asali Solomon
Random House Audio - 2021
Narrated by Karen Chilton - good
(5 hours and 33 min.)
The Days of Afrekete is a book which recently came to me attention by reading Susan's post on her blog, The Cue Card. It's a relatively short novel (novella) at just around 200 pages and 5 hours on audio. I'm still not sure how to classify it. It's dark, bold and even funny at times but, I thought it was a bit strange as well.
The story begins with a black woman named Liselle Belmont hosting a dinner party to thank her white husband Winn's political supporters for their hard work despite his failed political bid for state legislature in PA. As the dinner party is about to begin we learn that only Liselle is aware of the FBI's interest in her husband, a former real estate lawyer for some rather sketchy business dealings. As the uncomfortable party is about begin, Liselle's mind flashes back to some 20 years earlier to her college days at Bryn Mawr and her sexual escapades as a lesbian where she eventually meets a black woman named Selena. We begin to understand why the lives of these women play out in very different ways. Liselle begins to think given her current situation, that Selena may be the only person who might really understand her.
Told mostly from the POV of Liselle, the story seemed to focus more on the past including insight into both women as well as Liselle's mother Verity who a lot of issues of her own. This is a rather short novel and although the audio, narrated by Karen Chilton, was well done, I just wasn't a huge fan of the way the story played out.
Rating - 3/5 stars
(audio book download from my public library)