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The Execution of Noa P. Singleton [Hardcover]

Elizabeth L Silver
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Jun 2013
A gripping, thought-provoking and intriguing novel about murder, death row and how a life can change in a heartbeat. An irresistible read for those who loved WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.

At just twenty-five, Noa P. Singleton was confined to death row for the murder of Sarah Dixon. For nearly ten years she has languished there, and in six months she will be executed. It's a fate she has long resigned herself to. But the victim's mother, Marlene, has other plans. With little time remaining, she visits Noa, intent upon invoking a clemency appeal.

What can have prompted this change of heart? And how and why did Noa kill Sarah Dixon? As Noa tells her story, an unapologetic tale of love, anguish and deception emerges that is as unpredictable as its narrator. And two women, linked by murder but with very different goals, wait with growing tension for the final decision on Noa's fate.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (11 Jun 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0755399501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755399505
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 652,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Silver qualified as an attorney and has practised in Texas and California. She has a particular interest in capital punishment and has visited death row, interviewing inmates and meeting with victim and inmate family members. She has studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia as well as in the US.

Product Description


Challenging and compelling (Guardian)

A searing debut... This devastating read stands less as a polemic against the death penalty than as a heartbreaking brief for the preciousness of life (Publishers Weekly)

Smart, cool, articulate, funny and savvy - Noa P. Singleton dares you to put her story down (Rosamund Lupton, author of SISTER)

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton kept me awake long after I had put it down. Halfway through this gripping novel, in which 'good' and 'bad', 'guilt' and 'innocence' change positions more than once, I thought I was so clever I might know where this story was headed. But I was proved wrong in a way I never could have imagined (Herman Koch, author of THE DINNER)

As this unstoppable story bounds end-over-end to "X-Day," we are reminded that everybody is guilty of something. Forgiveness, freedom and peace are rare commodities, and Silver keeps us guessing about whether or not we will find them here (Washington Post)

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is mortal war between ferocious women, told with a fiery and merciless lyricism so beautiful it hurts (Katherine Dunn, author of GEEK LOVE)

Elizabeth L. Silver is a writer to watch out for, one of great scope and passion. Here she tackles a bold topic with skill, compassion and verve (Jill Dawson, author FRED & EDIE, THE GREAT LOVER, and LUCKY BUNNY)

In The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, Elizabeth L. Silver puts the human factor front and centre, to devastating effect. Guilt and innocence, capital punishment, the living hell of death row, all these get their due, but at the heart of it is us, the ongoing mystery of what lies inside our souls (Ben Fountain, author of BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK)

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is an intense and gripping novel of betrayal and guilt that forces readers to confront their convictions and the limitations of their capacity for empathy. Elizabeth L. Silver is a gifted new writer, and her novel is certain to be a smash (Ayelet Waldman, author of BAD MOTHER)

Book Description

A compelling, challenging and profoundly haunting novel of guilt, punishment - and the sentences that life itself can impose.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jailhouse Rock 13 Nov 2013
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There's a kind of death row genre. Person with attitude problem imprisoned on death row, nearing the end. New, idealistic lawyer turns up and uncovers evidence that proves the prisoner's innocence. In the process, lawyer works through some of his personal demons and probably uncovers an enormous conspiracy. Freed prisoner and lawyer have an emotional scene on the courthouse steps. The reader is left feeling that they have been beaten around the head by a wet tea-towel bearing the words "abolish capital punishment". Wrapped around a truncheon.

The Execution of Noa P Singleton lines up as a me-too product. In this case, the slight quirks are (a) Noa is female; (b) Noa is intelligent. In common with most prisoners in death row genre novels, but unlike most real-life death row prisoners, Noa is white. This allows Noa to have a shattered American Dream viewpoint, articulating the tribulations of incarceration as though she is the first person to ever undergo the experience.

For all that, the story is well told and Noa's voice works well in drip-feeding information to the reader as she plays mind-games with the lawyer and the charitable organisation that is funding him. The novel does build up tension and the frequent segue from past to present works well. As we discover Noa has had a colourful past and seems to have resisted the many opportunities that life has given her. The reader feels for her; feels frustration as she makes wrong choices. At the same time, the illustration of social injustice is broadly well done although, at times, there is a tendency to slip into stereotypes. There is also a dependence on some pretty unlikely situations and some reactions, especially from Noa, that do stretch credulity.

The Execution of Noa P Singleton is not a bad read, but it's nothing terribly special either. Does it follow the trajectory of the death row genre novel? You'll have to read it to find out...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars On death row 16 Aug 2013
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Noa P. Singleton has been on death row for ten years. Although a model prisoner she is combative with her few visitors, refusing to offer any explanation for the crime which led to her imprisonment. As we move inexorably towards 'x-day' the various episodes from her past come together to cast light on her present predicament.

"The Execution of Noa P. Singleton" is hideously overwritten (the opening paragraph being the worst offender) and I felt slightly on edge throughout, not knowing when I would next be ambushed by an overwrought simile or piece of incoherent imagery. For example, Noa describes her penalty hearing as 'a circus in which to turn my picture of Dorian Gray into the blackened canvas in which it lay', and at another point she opines : "Those words remain always, while papers and evidence eviscerate, peeling into orange curls and blackened petals in the crematorium of dead documents." (eviscerate what?). Noa describes how ten years of incarceration have gradually destroyed her ability to express herself, so you could argue that the overbaked prose is one element of her characterization. The narrative, however, is also shared by the mother of Noa's victim and there is almost nothing to distinguish her voice from Noa's.

I did persevere with this novel and at times I found myself carried along by the narrative; but ultimately I found it hard to care about Noa or her fate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Death Row has long been a place of fascination for writers of fiction and non-fiction. I'm not at all sure The Execution of Noa P Singleton is one of the best fictional accounts I've read but it has enough clout and originality to make it reasonably memorable.

The basis of the plot is the slow uncovering of the story surrounding Noa P Singleton who is approaching the date of her execution after being accused of murder. The mother of her victim seems to have an incredible change of heart and, at the last moment, offers her help in an appeal for clemency. As this appeal can't happen without legal representation the character of Oliver, English lawyer, arrives on the scene and his question and answer sessions with Noa allow the reader access to her history.

Personally, I would have enjoyed seeing a stronger bond, a relationship, build between the two of them because a good splash of emotion, sexual tension, would have added texture to a plot that can seem somewhat dry in places considering the subject matter.

As Noa narrates her story, and Oliver uncovers her past, it soon becomes evident that nothing is, or was, quite as it seemed in the beginning. There's certainly more to the events surrounding the murder than are at first revealed. Just exactly what happened, and why, are kept quite well hidden right up until the end when it becomes obvious there have been a series of lies but; I'm not telling you by who, or why. Unfortunately, the ending comes more as a 'fading' away rather than an explosion or a shock which disappointed me.

Throughout the novel I thought the characters were generally good but found Noa's individual dialogue clunky and difficult to believe as she speaks in a manner too intelligent and insightful when compared to her character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Execution of Noa P. Singleton 25 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Noa P. Singleton is thirty five and she has spent the last ten years of her life on death row, awaiting execution for the murder of Sarah Dixon. Although she has done little to help her own cause (she herself says she is guilty and "never contested that once...") there have been many failed appeals on her behalf. Virtually the only visitors she has ever had are lawyers hoping to get her to agree to get her hopes up yet again. Now, six months before her execution date, comes young lawyer Oliver Standsted, who wants to "help people" and whose social conscience has prompted him to work for the newly formed organisation, "Mothers Against Death". He wants to file a clemency petition on Noa's behalf, but it soon appears that things are not as simple as they seem - because "Mothers Against Death" has been started by Marlene Dixon, the mother of the victim Noa is accused of killing....

Many reviewers have pointed out that, to them, Noa's voice sounds false - she is, it has to be admitted, extremely able to tell her story in an intelligent and reasoned way. Yet, the author makes sure she tells her readers how academically able Noa was, despite her background. I suppose that you either have to feel that Noa rings true as a character for you, or you don't, and, if not, I do understand that argument. Personally, though, I liked Noa as a character and I found myself immersed in the story. We read of Noa's unfolding life, largely through her journals, which she intends to leave to Oliver. There are also letters from Marlene Dixon herself, to her daughter Sarah, which reveal some of her motivations.

On the book cover, this novel is compared to "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and I think that does this book an injustice. For me, it did not have that extremely thought provoking "what if?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartrending
Learning about the extended periods people can spend on death row was distressing in the extreme and this story makes the lives of inmates very vivid, very real, very... Read more
Published 1 month ago by bookworm8
4.0 out of 5 stars Different
I enjoyed this book, though very different to my usual reads. Give it time and expect a bit of a twist at the end.
Published 7 months ago by Marian L
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
This was quite an interesting concept for a novel and quite different from anything I normally read. Read more
Published 8 months ago by FLB
4.0 out of 5 stars very good but falls short of a repeat read.
very good but falls short of a repeat read., The main character was well defined and her being so gullible was a bit hard to believe.
Published 8 months ago by paul mahon
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
An interesting insight into the play between an admittedly guilty murderer - on death row - her solicitor and the mother of the victim whom has changed her views upon the issue of... Read more
Published 9 months ago by J. Bond
2.0 out of 5 stars Moa P Singleton
I found this book very confusing in fact half way through i left the book.i would not recomend it as a good read.
Published 9 months ago by sylvia bennett
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is Elizabeth L. Silver's debut novel.

Silver grabs the reader's attention from the opening pages....

... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Luanne Ollivier
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking but not moving
If you have read books that deal with this subject matter before you may be expecting something that tears at your very soul... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Emma
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I have read the reviews on Amazon on this book and am always amazed at the different views people have. Read more
Published 9 months ago by CSM
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