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Dear Killer

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Overview

Rule One. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.

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. 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 ...

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Dear Killer

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Overview

Rule One. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.

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. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/14/2014
Seventeen-year-old Kit is secretly London's dreaded "Perfect Killer," a nihilistic serial killer trained by her mother to carry out murder as part of a higher calling, choosing her victims from anonymous letters sent to her. As her body count grows, the police remain stymied—until Kit starts losing her focus. From making one murder personal to befriending a victim and outright flirting with the policeman unofficially assigned to the Perfect Killer case, it seems as though Kit's carefully constructed façade is finally crumbling. But she's still committed to carrying out one last assignment, heedless of the consequences. This tense page-turner was a finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest and represents Ewell's debut. She expertly captures Kit's dispassionate yet conflicted state of being, chronicling the chaotic swirl of emotions as the routine breaks down. However, Kit's point of view leads many other characters to feel less developed. The almost hypnotic nature of the storyline doesn't quite make up for moments of implausibility (including Kit's success and general modus operandi) and other plot holes in an otherwise solid thriller. Ages 13–up. Agent: Alice Martell, the Martell Agency. (Apr.)
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Sarah Schmitt
For Kit, murder is not just a job, it is the family business. Balancing her role as one of London’s most prominent serial-killers-for-hire with her classes at Ivy High School has its challenges. When she selects a classmate as her next target, Kit engages in a game of cat-and-mouse that ends up challenging her most basic rule: nothing is ever right and nothing is ever wrong. The decision to cast aside her original target and focus her deadly attention on the jealous ex-boyfriend who put the hit out in the first place sends Kit on a downward spiral of doubt. But instead of facing up to her crimes, she continues her murder spree, picking off random hits one after the other. All the while, conflict wells within her and she finds herself making sloppy mistakes that lead London’s youngest police detective straight to her door. A teenager herself, Ewell crafts a psychological thriller that will have lovers of the macabre sitting at the edge of their seat wondering what is going to happen next. Although the voice, which is supposed to belong to an English teen, is peppered with a decidedly American flair, Dear Killer provides a unique twist on the serial killer profile that allows readers to see past the occasional gaffs in the words as they uncover the insanity behind Kit’s compulsion to carry out heinous crimes. Dear Killer is a must-have for public libraries looking to freshen up their horror and crime selection. Reviewer: Sarah Schmitt; Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-15
This unusual and absorbing debut looks at a serial killer through the eyes of the killer herself. Seventeen-year-old Kit has been trained by her mother from an early age to kill by hand and leave no clues; she takes great pride in the name she's earned from the police: the Perfect Killer. She enjoys her high school philosophy class, where they discuss "moral nihilism," a code she feels she understands. She calls herself a serial killer, but she operates as an assassin, taking requests for murders from letters addressed to "Dear Killer" stashed in a shabby London restroom. It's all good, until classmate Michael asks the Perfect Killer to take out another, Maggie. Kit wrestles over which she ought to kill: Michael, who clearly deserves it but whose death has not been requested, or Maggie, who has become her only friend. Further complicating matters is her growing friendship with the detective assigned to her case. Although readers may disagree with Kit's take on morality, nevertheless they can watch her with fascination and even some sympathy as she commits her flawless crimes. Even as tension rises, Kit's moral struggle holds center stage and builds to her final choice. Unfortunately, though the book is nominally set in London, poor worldbuilding keeps readers from rooting themselves there; Kit's school, in particular, might as well be in Dubuque. Chilling and fascinating at the same time, despite flaws. (Suspense. 13-16)
Michael Grant
“Shocking, mesmerizing, and very smart.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Underneath the dark sensationalism thus lurks a complex framing of moral questions that thoughtful teens will want to grapple with.”
ALA Booklist
“With thoughtful discussions on philosophy and human nature, as well as satisfyingly detailed and gory descriptions of murders, readers will find plenty to savor and discuss.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062257802
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 261,895
  • Age range: 13 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Ewell

Katherine Ewell wrote Dear Killer when she was seventeen years old. She was one of fifty finalists out of 5,000 entries in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and has attended the invitational Iowa Young Writers' Studio. In addition, she has the distinction of being named a California Arts Scholar and has been awarded the California Governor's Medallion for artistically talented youth. Dear Killer is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

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( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 8, 2014

    Here¿s my working theory: Katherine Ewell, to satisfy some laten

    Here’s my working theory: Katherine Ewell, to satisfy some latent lust for blood, purposely wrote the most preposterous serial killer novel imaginable and now plans to murder her harshest critics.  Seriously, it’s the only possible motive for this disaster-piece.  If I end up dead after posting this review, the cops will already have a suspect—which is more than can be said for the idiots in charge of the Perfect Killer case. 

    This book had potential, and so does Ewell, she was only seventeen when she wrote this, after all.  That’s a pretty killer achievement, and it’s obvious she’s a budding talent, but perhaps this story should’ve been stuffed behind some bathroom tiles for a couple years until Ewell grows a little wiser about the ways of the world and homicide investigation.  I’m still trying to solve the mystery of how this story, in its current state, got picked up by Harper Collins.

     I’ve read several reviews trashing this book because of its sheer heartless brutality.  I’m not going that route.  The world needs moral nihilism just as much as it needs the fuzzy-feel-goods, and books should be free to give voice to all facets of human nature.  Kit, our narrator and seventeen-year-old serial killer, offers an unapologetic look into the mind of evil.  Under the guidance of her serial killer mother she’s been taking lives since she was nine, and by the time we meet her the body count tops out over fifty.  She (supposedly) never leaves behind a single cell of evidence, and London’s own Scotland Yard calls her the Perfect Killer.  Except, she’s not a perfect killer.  She’s REALLY not.  The cops are just dumbasses.  Seriously, if real life Scotland Yard detectives were as clueless as the ones in this book, London would probably turn into the murder capital of the world.  

    A complete list of all the absurdities inside these pages would be half as long as the book itself, but here’s some strong evidence that it sucks:

    Exhibit A—There’s a sort of urban legend floating around London: want someone dead? Easy, just hide a written request behind a certain tile in a certain public bathroom in a certain cafe, cross your fingers, and voila, there’s a good chance you’ll be waking up to blood spatter in the days to come.  The Perfect Killer strikes again, leaving behind YOUR request letter as a calling card.  But don’t worry, you won’t get in trouble—the cops don’t have any leads.  Uh, where should we begin with what’s wrong with this?

    Exhibit A-1—Every single person who had a request granted would be considered an accomplice to murder, or at the very least a witness.  But Scotland Yard can’t locate a single person who can reveal where the killer’s café is?  Fifty victims, and not one person will spill the coffee beans?  No police intimidation, no plea-deals, no guilt to get off their chests?  Nope.  Those who solicit murder from random strangers are just too dang loyal.  

    Exhibit A-2—We never find out HOW exactly the people who make the requests hear about the killer’s café.  But logic dictates that if housewives and high-school students and dullards who don’t know how to play the stock market can find the place, at least ONE cop in London should have caught wind of it.  Right?  RIGHT?!  Nope.  

    Exhibit B—Nevermind the fact that an inexperienced 20-something is leading the ‘most notorious’ serial killer case since Jack the Ripper, what’s really unbelievable is that he uses a seventeen year old girl as his go-to consultant.  Apparently the forensics experts have the decade off because Kit’s insights are all they have to build a case off of—so, hey, let’s just let her wander through crime scenes, dropping clues that only the murderer would know about.  It’s not like the cops are trying to collect any actual evidence anyway.  Their leader is much too busy sniveling to Kit about how incompetent he is.  

    Exhibit C—Despite the fact that Kit’s #2 rule of serial killing is BE CAREFUL, her MO has her acting anything but.  She never brings a weapon, not even when killing grown men twice her size, instead she uses her bare hands or whatever blunt item she happens to find at the scene.  Actually, she prefers to leave EVERYTHING to chance.  I’m not a serial killer, but I’m gonna bet that the ones who are still walking free would say they leave NOTHING to chance.  Like, they come ready with escape plans, they don’t kill in ridiculously public spaces, they don’t tell their victims who they are and then leave them alive, they are aware of this newfangled invention called a security camera…  But, hey, why be a clever and calculating killer when you can just show up, wing it, and have everything magically work out for you?  Truth is, the ONLY reason Kit is able to throw victims out skyscraper windows or bludgeon them to death in an alley near a busy street or karate chop their skulls in the school bathroom, and all without getting caught, is because THAT IS HOW THE BOOK IS WRITTEN.  Plain and simple.  Anyone can be a perfect killer with a naïve and fanciful writer controlling all the strings.    

    Exhibit…no, you know what, I’m done.  I could take this all the way to Exhibit ZZZZ, but rehashing this train-wreck is making me want to bash my own face in.

    Bottom line: the only perfect crime here is that this thing got published. 

    Shame on you, Harper Collins.  

    Best Lines:  “It’s hard to feel alone when you’re me, when you can imagine the throbbing of blood through each of them and you know the way each of them breaks, like dolls lined up on a shelf.”

    “Being able to tell when something is your imagination and being able to tell when something is truth.  There is a fine line between them sometimes, a line you have to tread carefully, because there are monsters on either side.” 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Katherine Ewell is an 18 year debut author, bringing readers a b

    Katherine Ewell is an 18 year debut author, bringing readers a book that is touted as a cross between Dexter and Pretty Little Liars. Dear Killer has an interesting premise that will draw readers in. Kit is known in London, as the "Perfect Killer." She is young, smart and has no real sense of right and wrong. Trained by her mother who is also an assassin, Kit gets her requests for murder from a secret mailbox. But eventually she starts to have her doubts about murder and why she does what she does. A premise with a lot of potential!

    What I liked:

    The blurb about this book was fascinating.Ewell gives readers a killer that is far different from what we would normally expect. First of all she is female and a serial killer. I thought that was an original idea since most of these kinds of stories feature men. I thought Ewell did a good job with creating a female killer, without a conscience. Kit didn't necessarily kill for glory, in fact in the beginning she alludes to the fact that she does it because that is what she was trained to do and for the money or reward for doing each job. She is a realist in some ways. Death is inevitable, she just helps it along.

    I also liked the idea of the secret mailbox. That came across as interesting and even though maybe a bit implausible, it was unique. The persona of the "Perfect Killer" is enhanced by the fact that anyone can get in touch with the killer if they know where the mailbox is and the kind of payment required. It was certainly not something I had seen before and that kind originality is one of the things that I did enjoy about this book.

    What I didn't like:

    Unfortunately, that's where the good stuff ends. Kit isn't Dexter. Not by a long shot. Dexter has a conscience. Even though he is a serial killer, he uses those instincts and compulsions to kill other serial killers or those who in some way deserve their fate. Kit however, kills whoever someone decides to target, whether for a good reason or a petty one. She stole my boyfriend, I need the life insurance money, etc. etc. I just couldn't rationalize getting behind Kit and wanting to see her succeed. I found myself not wanting her to win and that's not the right way you should feel about a lead character. She just didn't have any redeeming qualities. I have read lots of books about killers, but this one was just off for some reason. I know the author was trying to do something different, but I think she took that idea a little too far and didn't give the reader a reason to "like" her protagonist.

    There were also a lot of inconsistencies in the book. The book is set in London, but there are very few references to setting or turns of phrase or anything that would keep the reader focused on where the book takes place. It could have been anywhere. The idea of a seventeen year old girl being asked to help investigate a serial killer, by a very young Scotland Yard inspector was also a bit hard to swallow. 

    Bottom Line:

    This book had a lot of potential and I could see where the author was trying to go, but she just didn't get there. A female serial killer, good idea. A teenage killer, good idea. A secret mailbox, good idea. But none of the good ideas panned out into a good book. Readers will have a hard time getting behind the character and seeing a reason why she could or would change. Keep in mind this is the first book, by a young author, she has the right building blocks, but she needs to put them together in a different way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Dear Killer is definitely not your ordinary everyday young adult

    Dear Killer is definitely not your ordinary everyday young adult book. It has a unique plot mixed with just enough disturbing mental images to drive the story forward. At first, this book might be a bit too heavy for some. Kit, a seventeen-year-old hired killer whose mom is also a professional murderer. Sure, it seems a bit abusive; turning your small child into a killer, but that isn’t how this book plays out. There is an actual storyline, immense feeling, and the struggle of choices. The author, Katherine Ewell, did a great job bringing Kit into her own person and for the most part, portraying her as just another normal kid. That is after all how the vast majority of criminals look: normal.

    “nothing is inherently wrong and nothing is inherently right, because morality is only a set of rules created by society and not based on any greater truth.”

    This is definitely a book you need an open mind about if you haven’t ventured into the more macabre and darker style genres. It easily can make you hate the book for the situation Kits mom so easily placed her into, and the inner turmoil Kit faces daily because it. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path that has the shock and awe, this is the book to pick up then!

    *This book was provided in exchange for an honest review
    *You can view the original review at San Francisco Book Review

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  • Posted May 15, 2014

    It was a intriguing book. It is very different. It in in first

    It was a intriguing book. It is very different. It in in first person and she goes in depth about who this person is and how she feels. I read it in 2 days becasue I wanted to know how it ended. Really wish there would be a second book. I liked the end but at same time left me hanging.

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  • Posted May 3, 2014

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a re

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)
    17-year-old Kit is an accomplished murderer, so accomplished that she even has a nickname – the Perfect Killer.
    Kit’s mother was a murderer before her, and now it’s Kit that collects the letters from the special mailbox, and decides who she wants to kill. But this time around she knows one of the people she is being asked to kill, and things start to get a bit too personal.
    Will Kit kill the person she knows? And will she get caught?


    This was an interesting story, which at points was a pretty scary look inside a killers mind.

    I found Kit to be a bit of a disturbing character. Her ideas about right and wrong, and her lack of guilt over murdering people made it a little difficult to really like her, and as the book went on she seemed to become really quite deranged, taking pleasure in killing people, and making riskier and riskier choices.

    I liked the storyline in this, even though it was a little disturbing. I don’t know what the hell was wrong with her mother that she turned her nine-year-old daughter into a murderer, but whatever it was had obviously affected Kit, because she obviously carried on doing it on her own!
    As the book went along, Kit became bolder and bolder with her moves, she killed people in locations where they could be linked to her, she started choosing victims herself, she started to get personally involved in her victims lives, and she even followed the police investigation. The tension aroused by the book was really good though! I kept feeling like I couldn’t look because I was afraid that she was about to make a mistake and get caught!
    The ending was a little strange, and after all that worrying that she was about to be caught, was a little bit of a disappointment. Things sort of ended the way I expected, but there just wasn’t the fireworks that I expected.
    Overall; an interesting view into the mind of a killer.
    7.25 out of 10.

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  • Posted April 29, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    It's so disappointing how excited I was to get into this book, t

    It's so disappointing how excited I was to get into this book, to just end up hating it with a passion. I actually found the idea cool. I never read a book from the murderer's POV, but this book was just so unrealistic! How is it that the main character, Kit, is a professional killer at the age of 16. Apparently, her first kill was with her bare hands, at the age of EIGHT!!! How is that even possible? The story felt childish, Kit was such an annoying character. She really felt flat for me, and I just couldn't stand her, or her "evil" mom. The book also felt really repetitive. It was always her receiving a letter, her talking about how killing is no good or evil, and then her committing the murder. Same story over and over again. I also kind of expected what was going to happen in the end. After a hundred pages of reading, I decided that I wasn't going to continue. That being said, I opened the last page of the book, and the ending was exactly as I expected it! How boring, I can't say how disappointed I am because of this book.

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