Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

Kit Sutherland has spent the last year and half living a lie. Nobody knows her real name or her true identity. Luckily, her former friend gave her a chance at a new life and World War II provided her a job at Arlington Hall as a codebreaker.

Arlington Hall gave Kit her dream life, especially compared to how she grew up in rural West Virginia. With the military, she’s appreciated for her intellect and he ability to help the war effort. Everything in her life was going perfectly, until her roommate Dottie Crockford didn’t come home one night.

When Kit wakes up in the middle of the night and learns that Dottie never came home from a party, she enlists her supervisor, Moya Kershaw, to track down her friend. Thankfully, they find Dottie asleep and unharmed a few miles away at a different military facility. However, just as they’re ready to go home, Kit finds the body of a government girl in the bathroom.

It definitely doesn’t look like an accident. And the more digging Kit and her friends do, the more they see a pattern. There is a killer on the loose. No government girl in Washington DC or Arlington, VA is safe from this psycho.

Kit and her friends must keep investigating and act fast to prevent more tragedies from happening. Set during the backdrop of World War II, Kit deals with the stress of the war, sexism and hiding who she really is, in more ways than one.

We’re really glad that we picked The Killing Code for our January 2023 book club discussion. There was so much to unpack here, from the themes to the historical significance of the events.

First of all, we commend Marney for her extensive research into the time period and the locations mentioned. We know DC and Arlington very well, so it was amazing to read about familiar places and learn about how they have changed since 1943. Some of our favorite parts of the story were when Kit was riding in a car or a bus on a road that we’ve driven down frequently.

Everyone in our book club liked Kit. It’s true that women we’re able to work during this time period, but when the war ended, we’re expected to go back to being homemakers. While the story never gets passed the year 1943, we enjoyed the theme of female empowerment and how that intimated some of the men. It made us want to shake the men because the women we’re clearly superior when it came to codebreaking.

For the mystery aspect, we do admit it was a bit predictable, especially when we reached the second half of the book. We still liked it though and we felt bad for the for the victims. The least expected part of the mystery reveal was the killer’s end goal. Specifically, how he expected to get away with it. That part surprised us, even if the identify didn’t.

While we liked the mystery aspect of the story, themes ended up being much more powerful. We already mentioned sexism, but Marney also tackled the subject of racism through the character Violet DuLac. We absolutely adored Violet and she made the other characters more aware of what she faces compared to the rest of the women. This is shown when explaining how people of color were segregated in busses and in the military efforts.

Without spoiling anything, we were so happy with what Violet planned to do after the events of the book. She deserved a bright future.

Marney also talked about homophobia during the time period. Kit has a relationship with her supervisor Moya, which we totally shipped. Not only were homosexual relationships illegal at the time, but Moya was also Kit’s superior.

We really enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom and we worried about how they could continue their relationship, considering the time period. Overall, we were super happy with how things ended up. We even did our own research, to find out how many people were even out back in the 1940s. The answer: not very many. They pretty much had to keep their love a secret, except from a few select trustworthy friends.

As for Kit’s secret, it ended up playing a huge role in both the mystery and her personal relationships. It was nerve-wracking waiting with Kit as she had to pace things like background investigations. We just wanted her to be able to live her life.

Overall, we loved The Killing Code, especially the historical elements of the story. This was definitely a way for Marney to shine a light on the underrated American heroes of the war effort. If you get a hard cover of the book, Marney even included a couple of codes for her readers to attempt. Excuse us while we go give them a try.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

22 thoughts on “Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney”

  1. This sounds like such an interesting because it combines mystery, history, and wlw romance. It’s great to hear everyone in your book club loved Kit, and Violet sounds like a wonderful character too. Also, that’s fun that Marney added codes to solve in the book!

    Liked by 1 person

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