I’m always interested in books about the evolving roles of women in recent(ish) history, and in particular the way society’s view of women changed during war times. Ellie Marney’s latest YA novel – The Killing Code – is about young women who were recruited as codebreakers for US Signals Intelligence during World War II.
What is Ellie Marney’s The Killing Code about?
1943. World War II is raging across Europe and on the Pacific front. Kit Sutherland is hiding a huge secret when she is unexpectedly recruited to work as a young codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a US Signals Intelligence facility.
When Kit’s roommate doesn’t return home from a dance, it sparks a search that ends in a gruesome discovery. And soon it turns into a horrifying pattern: Government girls are being murdered in Washington, DC.
Kit joins forces with three other girl codebreakers, Dottie, Moya and Violet, and as they work to crack the killer’s code, two things become terrifyingly clear: the murderer they’re hunting is getting closer every moment … and Kit’s own secret could put her in more jeopardy than she ever imagined.
My review of The Killing Code by Ellie Marney
I absolutely loved this book! I was 100% hooked and invested in the characters from the very first pages and found it so readable. There is something about Marney’s writing style that makes the story feel really immediate and intimate, which I think helps make it such an engaging story.
Marney touches on a whole bunch of societal issues throughout the book, in a way that I think is both age appropriate (for a YA book) and also relevant to today – the book is historical fiction but feels current too. I really liked the way that these issues are introduced through diversity in the characters and so much is drawn out without it feeling forced. Through the cast of characters we see the privilege and disadvantage associated with gender and race and class and get a hint of the impacts of segregation. Obviously there are some content warnings on this one for violence towards women, including murder and assault.
I always love a good literary friendship group, and the bonds that develop between Kit, Dottie, Moya and Violet are really lovely. My favourite relationship however is the romance that develops between two of the women – it felt so authentic and natural, and I loved seeing them become friends and then move beyond that.
The mystery/thriller aspect was also well written – I feel like there was a good balance throughout the book of us getting a little bit of a look at their codebreaking work, the developing relationships and the mystery solving. There were good reasons for the women to be involved in investigating, which is something I always look for in an amateur sleuth kind of mystery, and the resolution was satisfying.
This was one of those books that had me googling the minute I put it down to find out more about the topic its written on, and I absolutely enjoyed every page.
The Killing Code by Ellie Marney
Out now from Allen & Unwin
Source: I received a free copy for review from Allen & Unwin (thank you!)
Category: Historical YA thriller fiction
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