Book Review: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton – Elizabeth L. Silver

executionofnoaTitle: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton
Author: Elizabeth L. Silver
ISBN: 9780385347433
Pages: 320
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Noa P. Singleton doesn’t have much to look forward to anymore. Once an attractive, successful young woman, Noa is now on death row and her final appeal for a stay of execution has been denied. But then, out of the blue, the woman who pushed hardest for the death penalty at Noa’s trial—the mother of the woman Noa murdered—offers Noa another option. She’s had a change of heart and has decided that she will fight to have Noa’s sentence changed, but in exchange, Noa must tell her the truth behind Sarah’s murder.


The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is a unique novel that presents a psychological thrill ride from beginning to end. Noa is very clear from the beginning: she is guilty of Sarah’s murder. But what isn’t so clear is the circumstances surrounding it. Why did Noa kill Sarah? Was it an accident? Was it premeditated, in cold blood? And why hasn’t Noa said a single word in her own defense? There’s something more going on here beneath the surface, and readers will be immediately drawn in by that mystery.

Noa’s quality of narration isn’t exactly transparent at the beginning of The Execution of Noa P. Singleton. Is Noa trustworthy? As the novel progresses, though, readers begin to understand her better. It’s easy sympathize with Noa. Though she’s in horrible circumstances now, quite possibly of her own making, she overcame a difficult childhood and once had a bright future. That being said, she’s not the easiest character to like. It’s clear that she’s holding a lot back, and that emotional distance resonates throughout the novel. Readers will be hooked on Noa’s story, as her confident narrative voice carries the plot singlehandedly.

At first glance, The Execution of Noa P. Singleton seems simpler than it actually is. As readers become more and more involved in the story, they begin to realize that all is not as it once appeared. Noa and Sarah’s mother, Marlene, are irrevocably connected. It becomes clear that Marlene has some sort of obsession with Noa, and that she is manipulating the situation to further her own ends. Of course, Marlene does tug at the reader’s emotions—after all, she lost her daughter—but the reader begins to see that she might not be blameless in the situation.

Complex, thoughtful, and strikingly written, The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is a psychological novel that will keep you reading late into the night. What really happened between Noa and Sarah? The author does a remarkable job of writing a potentially unreliable narrator that readers will be fascinated by, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that they aren’t certain whether they can trust her. If you pick up this novel, I’ll leave you with a warning: be prepared to read this in one sitting, as you won’t be able to put it down.

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  1. Beth Hoffman says:

    There are times when I like a complex thriller, and this one has really grabbed my attention. Terrific review, Swapna!

  2. I just recently read this, too, and felt pretty much the same. Though I thought the writing was a little overdone, especially in the beginning, I really thought it was one of the better “thrillers” I’ve read in a long time. At least in terms of plot, I was constantly surprised and pleased by where Silver took the story.


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