The Killing Code
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published September 20, 2022
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About The Killing Code
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.
Every time I read a great historical novel, I feel like I end up saying I need to read more historical books. I loved that THE KILLING CODE explores another part of World War II and specifically what was happening in the United States during the war. I also loved that it focuses on the relationships between women.
Moya and Kit alternate telling us the story. A few scenes kind of zoom out and give us a more omniscient view, setting up the scene before returning to that close third-person viewpoint. I really liked both Kit and Moya, so I loved getting to see both their perspectives. The transitions heightened tension and some romantic suspense, too.
THE KILLING CODE is the first book I’ve ever read by Ellie Marney, and after reading it, I definitely want to read more. The historical setting felt immersive without being distracting, and the murder mystery had me hooked from that early chapter where Kit finds the girl’s body.
I loved that the girls use their codebreaking strategies as their approach to solving the murder. That connected both their identities as codebreakers as well as the historical and murder mystery story elements.
Also, each chapter of THE KILLING CODE begins with a quote about solving puzzles or codebreaking. Some of the quotes are from real codebreakers like Elizebeth Friedman. I thought the author cleverly used those quotes both in connecting the story to history and giving some teasing hints about the upcoming chapter.
All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot. I definitely got caught up in the mystery and the high stakes race to find the serial killer before he strikes again.
Content warning for mentions of rape and attempted assault. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Point-of-view characters are white. Both are women who’ve had romantic relationships with women.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat infrequently.
Mentions of rape. When Kit sees the body of a murdered girl, she realizes the girl has also been raped. No details. Some scenes show kissing between two girls. In one scene, a murdered threatens women, clearly intending to rape and kill them.
A man attacks women, using a knife to threaten and harm them. A serial killer has been murdering women in the DC area. One murder scene is described.
Moya smokes cigarettes. The girls drink alcohol together in Moya’s room and at a club and hotel party.
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