Book Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

Thank you TBR and Beyond Tours for the chance to read and review The Killing Code by Ellie Marney!

The Killing Code is a september release (it came out on the 20th) and is published by Little Brown Books. It’s 385 pages long and is a YA historical mystery.

Review for The Killing Code

The Killing Code reads really well! It’s fast-paced, exciting, and set in the middle of a war. We have three things going on simultaneously, Kit’s secret, some romance, and the murders of young women employed by the government. 

Despite being for the war effort, this facility also seems to be a  woman’s haven. There is the freedom to work with other like-minded women, talk, even if some of them resent that for them, and dream about something better after the war.

While Ellie Marney wrote an excellent book, it’s closer to three and a half stars than four for me. Someone with so much experience should have been able to pick up on certain things. For instance, while I loved Kit and Moya overall, sometimes I felt like Kit was snapped into becoming super flirty with Moya when the rest of the time, she came off pretty shy. I couldn’t understand how her personality flipped in those moments. I also loved Violet and Dottie as characters, but I felt like Violet was used to superficially exploring race issues in the US. I think Violet was the only black girl we interacted with in the book, which is odd. Even worse when you realize that Moya was a supervisor who could have tried to at least foster more significant interaction between these units. 

On the plus side, Raffi was fun, and I loved that he was quick to understand why Kit wasn’t dancing. After Kit first suspected and dismissed, who she thought the killer was, I was sure it was that guy. Many misogynists hide like this, and we find out far too late. I did like how well researched the book was and Kit’s secret. That added an absorbing layer to their actions and the risks involved.

About Ellie Marney

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.

Blurb for The Killing Code

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 Signal Intelligence facility. 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.

Further Reading: The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

Ellie Marney did a lot of research while writing this book and she shares a whole list of books one could go on to read after The Killing Code. I personally want to recommend The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone. I have yet to finish it, but I’ve been listening to the audiobook on and off and it’s a fantastic book recognising a woman whose contributions were ignored at the time and still forgotten now.

Alternatively, also great for when your parents tell you that you can’t do anything with a degree in literature.


In 1916, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the U.S. government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code-breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the “Adam and Eve” of the NSA, Elizebeth’s story, incredibly, has never been told.

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Fagone unveils America’s code-breaking history through the prism of Smith’s life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson’s bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page-turning popular history at its finest.

One response to “Book Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney”

  1. […] Book Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney […]


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