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The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

Ellie Marney knows her way around a YA mystery book. The Killing Code is the latest in a line of excellent stories to come from the New York Times Bestselling author.

The story of codebreakers of the second world war, the book is partially based on truth and the importance of the women of the war who worked, often behind the scenes, to help the allied forces. Quite something of a story in and of itself, you may feel compelled to learn a little more about these remarkable women following a reading of the story.

Set against the horror and fear that was so common during the war years, the women of the code-breaking band find themselves solving another code, the riddle of young women killed in the local area. Creating a strong bond within the group of girls, the mystery - usually the main driver of a narrative - becomes equal to the characterisation and situations that the characters are placed in, replete with secrets and mistakes.

It should be noted that some of the sequences, particularly those where the body is found, are rather gory for a YA audience and at times a little darker than expected in terms of the descriptions. However, the sapphic love story creates anticipation and a strong sense of connection between these two characters.

Set in the majesty of Arlington Hall, Virginia, the code-breakers feel they need to begin to unravel the case as the police seem nonplussed about helping the cause. Above all, it was the code-breaking, and the explanation of the code-breaking, that is really quite something of a feat in the writing.

Racism and sexism are explored throughout, and at times it does become a little preachy about such things. While these are clearly vitally important topics to develop and promote better understanding, it was a little strong at times. The historical details certainly more than make up for a few uncomfortable moments.

Overall, this was a cracker of a read. A fast-paced, well-structured and well-plotted piece of writing that has the potential to bring more people into the fold of reading in our schools. As a vehicle to learn more about the codebreakers of the war, there is little better for the audience.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Little, Brown


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