‘Notes on an Execution’ – Danya Kukafka

Notes on an Execution is a novel that I feel has slipped under the radar somewhat. Told from the viewpoints of three very different women, this was the story of serial killer Ansel Packer. It offers a fascinating exploration of modern society, and our attitude to crime.

Ansel is on Death Row and has twelve hours to live. He doesn’t want to die, but he recognises that he has taken the lives of a number of young women and needs to pay for what he has done.

While it was interesting to learn about the background of this character, it was good that we were not forced into a particular way of viewing him. Certainly not the product of a loving family background, Ansel was a character you felt some sympathy for but – ultimately – what he did was hard not to judge. Seeing him through the eyes of those who interacted with him also offered a different viewpoint.

Ansel’s mother, Lavender, tried to give him the best start she could, but her lack of support made it hard. I’m glad we got the opportunity to catch up with her later on and see how she tried to atone for the choices she had made. Saffy, the detective who knew Ansel as a child, was an intriguing character and there was a small part of me that wanted to applaud her dogged determination to do the right thing by characters that so many were able to forget.

The closing stages of the book took things in quite a different direction to that signalled at the start. It’s certainly a book to get you thinking.