Blog Tour Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A historical mystery novel taking place during the height of WWII

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Ellie Marney for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: YA Historical Mystery
Publishing Date:
September 20, 2022

A historical mystery about a girl who risks everything to track down a vicious serial killer, for fans of The Enigma Game and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.

Virginia, 1943: World War II is raging in Europe and on the Pacific front when Kit Sutherland is recruited to help the war effort as a codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signals Intelligence facility in Virginia. But Kit is soon involved in another kind of fight: Government girls are being brutally murdered in Washington DC, and when Kit stumbles onto a bloody homicide scene, she is drawn into the hunt for the killer.

To find the man responsible for the gruesome murders and bring him to justice, Kit joins forces with other female codebreakers at Arlington Hall—gossip queen Dottie Crockford, sharp-tongued intelligence maven Moya Kershaw, and cleverly resourceful Violet DuLac from the segregated codebreaking unit. But as the girls begin to work together and develop friendships—and romance—that they never expected, two things begin to come clear: the murderer they’re hunting is closing in on them…and Kit is hiding a dangerous secret.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for these book, check out BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Ellie Marney is a New York Times bestselling and multi-award-winning crime author who has gone behind the scenes at the Westminster Mortuary in London and interviewed forensic and technical specialists around the world in pursuit of just the right details for her brand of pulse-pounding thrillers.

Her titles include The Killing CodeNone Shall Sleep, the Every trilogy, No LimitsWhite Night and the Circus Hearts series. She has lived in Indonesia, India and Singapore, and is now based in Australia with her partner and their four sons. 

Ellie has been involved in the creation of the national campaign called #LoveOzYA to promote and advocate for Australian YA literature. She contributed to the critically-acclaimed Begin End Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, and co-runs the popular #LoveOzYAbookclub online. She also co-coordinates an online info-sharing group for Australian women self-publishers. She teaches writing and publishing through Writers Victoria, advocates for Australian women’s writing as a Stella Ambassador in schools, and is a regular speaker at festivals and events.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Happy Sunday everyone! I have another review for you today.

When I first got the email for this tour, I signed up without even really reading the synopsis; I was just a huge fan of the book’s cover and thought this was going to be a YA mystery/thriller reminiscent of Karen M McManus or Maureen Johnson. Reader, I was wrong lol.

Although this book was classified as a YA, it had a very adult feel to it. I would probably say it’s more of a New Adult novel than a YA novel. It’s also a historical mystery rather than the contemporary one that I thought it was (my bad!), with the plot taking place during WWII. The blurb mentions this being a good read for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, which I can definitely see, but I think The Killing Code is more of a slow burn mystery than AGGGTM. 

The plot follows a woman, Kit, who takes another woman’s identity and begins a job as a decoder for the US Forces. When she stumbles upon the violated body of one of her colleagues, she and her friends learn that there is a serial killer in their midsts and team up to find justice. 

The reason I call this a slow burn mystery is because a good portion of the book revolves around Kit’s stolen identity and job as a decoder rather than solving a murder. As someone who doesn’t really enjoy historical novels, this meant that I wasn’t fully invested in the book until the very end when the climax occurred. For me, a large part of the fun in reading a mystery is trying to piece clues together myself and as a result found myself desperate to see some of the codes Kit and her colleagues are trying to decode to understand more about what they were doing, especially since I majored in Japanese. Sadly the codes weren’t actually included in the book, just the methodology for how to solve them. I think adding some codes for the reader to tackle or more clues about the murderer would have really elevated my experience.

That being said, this book definitely had a lot going for it. We get a feminist storyline of women protecting women as well as some racial commentary about how Black women were treated in the US during this time period. There is even a main sapphic romance featured in the book with basically no homophobia present in the narrative which was kind of nice to get a break from that. I loved basically all of these characters and would be interested in knowing more about some of the side characters that were introduced in this book should sequels be in the works.

If you’re a fan of historical (particularly WWII era) books with a good murder mystery, please check this book out! I will mention that it explores some themes of misogyny and sexual assault, so you should be prepared for that. 

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