The Killing Code

Little, Brown. Sept. 2022. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316339582.
Gr 9 Up–This novel is set during World War II but doesn’t rely on the built-in drama of a typical wartime tale. Instead, Marney weaves thrilling drama, assumed identities, queer love, racism, and even murder against the compelling and true backdrop of American female codebreaking units. It comes together seamlessly, with every thread informing the others, a laudable feat. Protagonist Kit once worked as a maid—and perhaps more—for the real Katherine Sutherland. After Katherine, who was ill from infancy, dies at the finishing school where Kit served as her companion, the whip-smart Kit assumes her identity (as Katherine asked and encouraged her to) and stumbles into work as a codebreaker. If the threat of being exposed as a fraud during war wasn’t enough, soon Kit and a gang of fascinating fellow codebreakers are sucked into solving the mystery of a serial killer terrorizing the young government-working women of Washington, D.C. While the book contains some phrases and thoughts that feel anachronistic, it overall serves as a gripping and inspiring tale. Quotes from real codebreakers and historical figures open every chapter, ensuring this brisk tale is informative while entertaining. Katherine and Kit are white.
VERDICT An intersectional and enthralling story of largely unknown history mixed with engrossing crime mystery.

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