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The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1St Edition edition (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038534743X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385347433
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2013: Smart, quick and disarmingly direct, the eponymous heroine of this stunning debut is a twenty-something college dropout on death row for murder in Pennsylvania. Did Noa P. Singleton actually kill the daughter of the woman now agitating for the state to commute her death sentence? And if so (or even if not) why is Sarah Dixon’s mom, who writes letters to her dead daughter throughout, so anxious for Noa to be cleared? If those were the only questions, this would have been an average thriller. Thanks to very complex characters (particularly Caleb, Noa’s mostly absent father who not coincidentally is sleeping with Sarah) and jagged, jarring prose--a gun sits in a backpack “awkwardly like an adult in a kindergarten class”; Noa declines to occupy the passenger seat on her lawyer’s “virginal ride to salvation”--and a plot that twists and turns but never neatly resolves, it’s genius: a pithy, funny, sad story about truth and lies, and whether we ever really, truly know the difference. --Sara Nelson

From Booklist

In this vividly written debut novel, Silver, a lawyer, brings her background to bear on the story of a woman who is 10 years into her stay on death row. Six months before her scheduled execution date, Noa P. Singleton, who was sentenced to death for the murder of her father’s pregnant girlfriend, Sarah Dixon, is visited by the victim’s mother, Marlene, a high-powered attorney. Marlene has reversed her opinion on the death penalty and is seeking to file a petition of clemency on Noa’s behalf, but Noa is highly skeptical of Marlene’s motives. In the cleverly constructed narrative, which alternates between Noa’s diary and the self-serving letters Marlene pens to her dead daughter, the circumstances of the crime begin to emerge. And though by novel’s end, the characters prove unlikable and their motives murky, Silver definitely delivers a thought-provoking examination of the criminal-justice system, providing a clear-eyed view of the artificial theatrics that dominate criminal trials and a heartfelt look at both grief and remorse. An intriguing debut from a writer to watch. --Joanne Wilkinson

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Customer Reviews

I thought the characters were well developed.
Morrine
I really wanted to like this book, but by the end all I was thinking was: HUH???!!!
M. J Soverall
Characters were unlikeable and story line much too slow.
Ginger P. Buschardt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

161 of 181 people found the following review helpful By DS from LA on July 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Now, does that title make any sense whatsoever? Or does it seem like a series of words randomly strung together? (Hint: it's the latter.) Welcome to the world of first-time author Elizabeth L. Silver, who it seems never met a simile she didn't like.

Although this novel has an intriguing premise and was listed among Amazon's "Best Books of the Month" (a testament more to the skill of Ms. Silver's publicist than to the taste of Amazon's editors), it is unfortunately an abject failure. Apart from the wholly unsatisfying nature of the rather ridiculous final "reveal" of the crime, the writing is painfully overblown, consisting of page after page strewn with awkward and often nonsensical similes. A few examples:

"Marlene twisted her neck like the top of a soda bottle opening." (Sounds like Marlene will be needing a chiropractor.)

"It's isolating, like a termite scuffling up your innards." (Huh?)

"The pearl of blood dripped onto the white duvet like a spot of chocolate." (Yum.)

"A pale rough armor covered his mouth like scales from a striated fish." (Try as I might, I just can't make a sensible mental picture of this.)

"A smirk seeped out between my lips like an unsuspecting belch." (I've never seen a smirk between someone's lips, nor do I have any idea what a belch might suspect or not suspect.)

"Thirteen individuals, marinating in the enclosed jury box like a carton of dried-out fruit." (Um, if it's marinating, it's not dried out.)

"His heart was too visible outside his garments, where it resided like lint on a week-old sweater." (Is there a different kind of lint on a two-week-old sweater?
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By arabella on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is so bad that it's astonishing that it was published, even these days. The author apparently has an MA in creative writing from England, which is also astonishing and very depressing. She uses hundreds and hundreds of awkward, clumsy similes until the reader wants to scream. The sun's "talons" point "like a strict schoolteacher;" clouds commune "like a collection of cotton balls in a tightly sealed ziplock bag" or have been "flattened out like a stack of pancakes" or have "been vaccinated with a syringe of rainy dye;" a convict dies "like the sizzling flicker of a fading lightbulb;" sneakers on a telephone wire "swayed over me like poisonous mistletoe;" a security camera "closed in on me like a furtive spectator;" a door closed "as if a director had slapped a clapboard;" her father has "a water bottle on his side like a colostomy bag," etc., etc., etc. Many of her images are ugly and/or inappropriate, and she doesn't even seem to know the meaning of many verbs and adjectives. Do publishing houses not employ editors any more? Silver's characters have no personality or emotions; she's just using them to push her plot, such as it is, laboriously forward. What a waste of ink, paper and time this book is.
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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is a novel about a woman sitting on death row, awaiting her demise. Once a very accomplished scholar - salutatorian of her high school and with a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania - she left college after one semester. Noa is accused of killing a woman named Sarah, her father's girlfriend. Throughout the trial, Noa said not one word in her defense.

Ironically, Sarah's mother, a vile and manipulative woman, starts an agency called MAD - Mother's Against Death, and offers to help Noa appeal her death sentence in exchange for life imprisonment. She has an assistant who works closely with Noa and Noa's life emerges in the course of the book, leading up to the point of the crime.

The book is a page-turner but there is something missing. I was not excited by the goings on and did not feel like I really knew Noa despite the ten years that she languished in prison and her life story that she tells to the attorney. We learn about her father who deserted her when she was an infant and is now in contact with her. He owns a bar called Bar Dive and has worked the twelve steps to become straight and clean. Noa's mother is a failed community theater actress who neglected Noa for much of Noa's youth.

The story flows but does not excel. There are no grand disclosures or mountains that made my heart leap, nor did I get any special moral or ethical messages from the writing. What I got was a page-turner that was interesting to read and kept my attention for two days.
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84 of 100 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on March 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
... you have a hot new author, Elizabeth L. Silver, on your trail, and she takes no prisoners with her "can't put down" new book, "The Execution of Noa P. Singleton".

The book grips you from page one. It tells the tale of one Noa P. Singleton, a woman on death row for a killing. She is sardonic, immediately likable if not all together trustful or truthful (after all, she is on death row). She meets a new lawyer, Oliver Stansted, who convinces her he might have the key her life, if only she opens up about what really happened on the night of the killing. Enter Marlene Dixon, and things get really interesting.

I don't want to reveal too many spoilers in this review, for Silver has penned quite an amazing roller coaster ride of family dynamics, deceptions, games, and death. The most important accomplishment in her book is her characterization of Noa. As she tells her story, she becomes a very real person. There are scenes, particularly between her and her estranged father, that were so well-written that I felt like I was watching it on a movie scene. Silver has a talent for dialogue, tension, and captures the voice of Noa so wonderfully that its a wonder this is her first book.

By the time the novel ends, you are utterly exhausted, and amazed that you sped through her first book so quickly. Fans of mysteries, fans of murder, fans of great fictions, put this book on the top of your reading list immediately. You will not regret one minute you spend with Noa.
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