Contemporary Realistic Fiction · Review · Young Adult

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Dear KillerKatherine Ewell’s Dear Killer (which I read as an ARC) is about a teenage girl trained to be a hired serial killer. Her trademark? She leaves the letter requesting she kill said victim, but no evidence is left otherwise to indicate her or the letter’s author as the killer.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.

This is an interesting YA thriller, if only for the fact that Kit has a very different philosophy of life. She is a moral nihilist–“Nothing is right, nothing is wrong” (1). This quote is the first rule. It’s the only way she can rationalize murdering people. However, she learned this philosophy and how to kill from her retired-serial-killer mother. In my opinion, both are off their rockers.

Let’s start with the things that normally put me off:

  1. It’s written in the first person.
  2. Her thought processes are not realistic of teenager, or an adult for that matter.
  3. It was predictable from about 100 pages in.

Now for more reviewing.

To the public, her alter ego, Diana (as she calls herself), is known as London’s “Perfect Killer.” She befriends the police officer who is honorarily in charge of her case. I find it ridiculous that her mother (who hardly pays attention to her) was the one who brought him home, but criticizes her throughout the novel for continuing to toy with him–even saying she knew Kit was crazy and couldn’t handle this.

The next problem is she completely loses her mind when she actually kills someone without having a letter for them. She killed him mainly because she thought he was crazy and a danger to her new friend, Maggie. Then she starts blaming Maggie for her killing Michael. What does she do? She kills her.

If she were a perfect killer, she wouldn’t cast so much suspicion on herself.

Despite what the synopsis from Goodreads says, it doesn’t discuss or show the debate between good and evil. It mainly has you tell her how it is, mainly through the lens of moral nihilism.

I find it interesting that the author, whose name is Katherine, gave her MC a diminutive of her own name.

I like reading novels that show the thoughts of serial killers. There are some good ones out there. This is not one of them. This may only be an okay entrance into thriller’s starring the murderer.

And for some reason, Chapter 21 ends with a poem that doesn’t add insight into anything or anyone in the novel.

Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

2 Stars Out Of 5

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