Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dear Killer

Kit is a teenage serial killer. People send her letters and money to kill random people in their lives for whatever petty reason they think of. She then judges if they are worth the risk and, if they are, carries out the murder flawlessly, leaving the letter at the scene. Of course she also goes to school like normal kids, but she makes an effort to skate through the middle, not attracting attention. Unfortunately, one of her letters targets a classmate of hers, making it hard to carry out without suspicion. In preparation, she befriends her future victim. Encouraged by her mother who trained her to become a serial killer, Kit also befriends the young man in charge of investigating her murders and genuinely likes him. Will Kit continue to murder indiscriminately or will her new friendships change her perspective?

I'm always a sucker for books about serial killers. Dear Killer seemed like it would actually be about a sociopathic killer. So often the killer claiming to be a sociopath cares deeply for their friends and/or family, making them not a sociopath. They tend to be hard to relate to and this makes them human even if it contradicts who they are supposed to be. Anyway, Kit is all about moral nihilism: nothing is right and nothing is wrong. She carries out the murders in the letters without judgment. It's just not enough for her and she starts to question the dogma that her mother instilled her with. I found Kit interesting for about the first half of the novel. I liked her growing up and figuring out the world for herself instead of internalizing someone else's beliefs. Despite the numerous problems I had with the novel, the writing kept me reading and made it easy to finish in about a day.

I have so many problems with the novel. Too many things push my suspension of disbelief beyond its limits. Kit started killing as young as 9 and never left a shred of evidence at any of her crime scenes. Seeing the huge mistakes she makes over the course of the novel makes that unbelievable to me and there is no way she is truly a perfect killer. She brilliantly kills not one, but two students from her school and was very near when their bodies were discovered. That's just way too coincidental and of course she would be under suspicion. Kits acting is awful and she thinks she's convincing everyone that she's super normal, but it comes off horribly. It also doesn't help when Kit very publicly attacked and threatened a boy not one week before she killed him. Also, the fact that she gets hundreds of letters and so many people know where to contact her, but the police don't. Are they just really incompetent? Also, the book takes place in England, but I don't get the feeling of being anywhere but the US. The language didn't reflect it and neither did the descriptions of the setting. Only the mentions of Scotland Yard reminded me where it was set.

Overall, I was disappointed with Dear Killer. I had to do way to many mental gymnastics to find the story remotely plausible. I grew tired of Kit and her weird reasoning for things and numerous mistakes throughout the novel. I would read another book by Katherine Ewell, but not another Perfect Killer novel if there is one.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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