Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Kit Ward is continuing a tradition that started with her mother. When most mothers were teaching their daughters how to do their hair, imparting confidence, and letting them use lipstick for the first time, Kit’s mother was teaching her how to kill a person with her bare hands. Years later, Kit has perfected her mother’s methods and is notoriously known as the Perfect Killer. But Kit isn’t like other serial killers, she’s a people-pleaser. Those angry enough to seek murder as a solution to their problems write letter to the Perfect Killer requesting her services. When Kit recieves a request to kill someone she knows, she sees it as a challenge. What Kit doesn’t realize is this new endeavor will put on her on a path that will cause her to question her identity as the Perfect Killer.
“I thought about the clockwork of it all as I walked back onto the street, the night air biting into my skin. The precision, the order. The fact that no one was there to tell me that I was wrong, or disgusting.
Do you remember what I said about not enjoying murder?
That was a lie.”
There’s a simplicity to Kit’s world: she’s a serial killer, she collects letters from people asking her to kill, she decides who she is going to kill, and follows through. She doesn’t question whether the writers of said letters are justified, she doesn’t even bat an eyelash when it comes to murdering people who may or may not deserve it. Murder is simply a way of life for her. But there is a degree of arrogance in Kit and she likes a challenge. She befriends the target of one of her letters, but everything begins to fall apart when she finds herself protecting the girl from the boy she suspects wrote the letter.
Kit also finds herself forming a friendship with the lead investigator on the Perfect Killer case. Alex is young and desperate to solve these murders, he sees something promising in Kit and she finds it easy to manipulate him. But as the story progresses this manipulation doesn’t feel so deceptive and it isn’t so easy for Kit. She cares about Alex and she doesn’t want him to see her for what she really is. In him, Kit sees a different life for herself. I liked Alex’s vulnerability and even though he began opening up to the serial killer he was hunting, I still sort of rooted for their friendship for the sake of the protagonist.
Kit’s childhood is defined by her relationship with her mother. With the perpetual absence of her father, the only person Kit has ever had to tether her to the world is a serial killer herself. Kit’s mother has retired from murder, but there are times when the two are in the same room and you can just feel the want radiating off of the mother. Though she is the picture of control, I was just waiting for the moment when her pristine façade would break.
I was a little reluctant to pick up Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell because of the number of negative reviews it received on Goodreads and Amazon, but I just couldn’t turn my back on a book about a female serial killer. And I am so glad I picked up this book. Kit is an incredibly interesting character and although my own worldview contradicts hers, I still felt that she was a compelling protagonist and at times I found myself desperately wanting to save her.