Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Page Count: 368
Review copy provided by HarperCollins / Edelweiss for an honest review
DEAR KILLER is a book where I wish I can take back all those precious hours I spent reading it and devote them to other things. It’s a book I want to forget, a book I want to pretend does not exist. This is no offense to those who love it, or those who worked on it. It’s a book that I found in so many ways to be ridiculous, nonsensical, and at times verging on being completely offensive to a number of groups – victims of domestic violence in particular. And as such, this review might have spoilers and triggers for any survivors of domestic abuse or stalking, so be prepared if you wish to proceed.
Following the “Perfect Killer”, in reality a teenage girl in a London that sounds more like Los Angeles except with colder weather, we fall into a world where the police are more incompetent than the FBI on an NBC drama (I’m looking at you, The Blacklist), teenage girls decide whether you live or die, mothers are psychopaths who teach evil to their unquestioning daughters, and victims deserve to die if they’re happy their abusers are dead.
Kit might have been one of the most unlikable heroines I have ever encountered. Beyond her contorted sense of the definitions of right and wrong, as well as never questioning her mother’s intentions and having a horrible sense of protecting herself, she was just a horrible person. Her judgments were questionable – letting people live versus letting them die based on notes left in an extremely findable box in a restaurant, in a toilet behind a tile where anyone could find the notes and the cash left as payment for her actions (by the way – what was she even doing with hundreds of thousands of dollars? Putting it away for college? Saving to buy a pony? She was rich to begin with considered she lived in a neighborhood where small townhouses like hers would retail for $10 million US). On top of this, her contorted sense of self is suddenly impervious to the law, to common sense, and to justice. Her “justice” was never just. Ever.
The book never feels like something real, like a true contemporary tale of what might happen. The writing is subpar, the characters cardboard, and the world building for London very off. It seemed more like California and less like England, from the schools
What made me so mad about DEAR KILLER was how it seemed to exist in another world where the laws and realities of our own world don’t matter. For example, Kit our not-so-much-a-heroine heroine wanders onto a crime scene where the police invite her to contribute her opinion – on a crime she committed and bragged about how well she hid everything, while not really doing something that would clear her – and then invite her to give advice on other crimes, into crime scenes, giving her clues and evidence about crimes she committed. In fact, the police officer she takes an interest in is so blinded by how awesome Kit is that he can’t piece together the obvious fact she is the killer. She doesn’t do a good job hiding it, and he’s as daft as can be.
Oh, and Kit? You are not a “Perfect Killer” – you just exist in a world where your police officials cannot put together two and two, where these letters that would pin anyone as a killer are overlooked because they can be “faked” and denied (no they can’t – that stuff is obvious). This book’s research seemed to go as far as watching an episode of a procedural show, and not a good one either.
Oh, and beware, this next paragraph is a huge spoiler AND trigger.
Beyond the stupidity of the police and the immoral morality of Kit, this novel seemingly posits that yes, if a girl that Kit calls a friend is happy her tormenter is dead – dead at Kit’s own hand for beating her up to begin with – that she deserves to die. This guy stalked her, threatened her, and caused her to feel great fear in his presence, a fear that ruined her waking life, and yet she deserved to die because she was happy this guy was dead, even though he loved her, even though he showed her that he cared immensely about her by threatening her and intimidating her.
In what world is that okay? In what world is it alright for a teenage girl to be presented as a smart, intelligent heroine when she kills people whose only crimes are falling for the wrong guy who drunk drives and tells her only for her to react badly, or for a girl who was intimidated by a guy in her life, or for a girl who spurned a creep? How do they deserve to die? This book never even answered the question of how this girl was never caught considering her completely easy to spot techniques. I should have known that it never would have fully answered why this girl thought it was okay to kill women and teenage girls who were victims already without being blamed for their perceived crimes.
Even with the ending being the way it is, the morality of this book is just so off-putting and nonsensical that I just cannot recommend this book. I can’t recommend this book full of unrealistic crime fighting, unrealistic killing, and unrealistic expectations.
I just can’t. And in fact, I’ll go one further. Skip this book, pretend it doesn’t exist, and move on.