Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell (2014)
Genre: YA, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Page Length: 362 pages (hardcover edition)
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. (description from Goodreads)
Dear Killer is a novel about a high school student named Kit who’s a serial killer. She cleverly keeps up her appearance of a student by day while taking requests for kills at night. All the while she gets close to the enemy, Alex, a policeman at Scotland Yard and befriends him in order to find out about the “Perfect Killer” case.
What makes this novel such a page turner is that it’s such a gritty psychological thriller. There are numerous twists and turns, and once you have a slight idea of where the story is going, it does a complete 180. On top of that, the reader is looking through the point the view of a serial killer. Everything is muddled, she’s an unreliable narrator, and you’re not sure if you can trust her.
Throughout the whole book I struggled with Kit. I was on edge to see whether she would get caught and while some of the people she kills are horrid, some are completely innocent. In her mind it almost seems as if she’s playing God. She befriends her victims in order to gain their trust and this causes a whirlwind of emotions from the reader to warn her newfound “friends” of the impending danger. As for Kit’s family life, I found the dynamic between kit and her mother to be really interesting. They seem somewhat close, but distant at the same time. They are also tied together not only biologically, but also because her mother has passed down her murderous traits.
This fast paced novel gets even crazier during the latter part of the novel. I won’t spoil too much for you, but I will say there is a lot of heated tension. Kit starts questioning her life as a serial killer. She ponders about morality of life, killing someone who doesn’t serve to die, and struggles between wanting to live a normal life vs. having power over others. All these emotions tie in for a very climactic ending.
*Trigger warning for some slightly graphic scenes and descriptions in the book.
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