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Review: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell


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.

My thoughts

Criminal Minds is one of my favorite shows, I love to read and watch Dexter and books like I Hunt Killers and I am not a serial Killer are favorites of mine. So when I read this book’s summary I got all excited and wanted to read it right away. Sadly this one was not for me, at all. It lacked all the things I would expect in a book written from a killer’s perspective and instead came with other weird aspects that I didn’t’t like.

I couldn’t understand her reasons to kill

Not that serial killers are usually reasonable but at least they always have some reason or other that helps me understand their motivation, as crazy as they may be. The only thing I got from her was “People need me” and that wasn’t enough for me. I didn’t get a feeling from her that she enjoyed the killing herself and just couldn’t stop. And the people she chose to kill? I couldn’t understand those decisions either. She gets those letters and chooses only a few and still ends up with some really stupid ones.
There was one point in the book when she actually thought about what she was doing and I hoped from there on the book would get better and more interesting. But nope. She stopped thinking pretty fast again.

The whole setup with the letters felt fake

When I read the summary of this book I thought this idea was so cool and it would make an amazing story but it didn’t work out for me at all. She gets a ton of letters and every time we get to read about one of them I was like “WTF?”.
First: I still don’t get how something like this can be setup in the first place. All those random people know were to stuff the letters but the police never finds out, not a single person spills the beans? She doesn’t even answer every letter with a kill but always keeps the money people leave with the letter. Why would people just leave hundreds of dollars without knowing they will get what they want? Why is everyone just leaving the letters but no one has the idea of stealing them to get the money?
Second: When she kills she leaves the letter with the victim. And again there are so many reasons why I don’t believe that this could ever work like this, why I don’t believe people would write her those letters.
Third: As mentioned above, the letters she chooses. They weren’t all bad. Not that I think that it is ever okay to kill someone for any reason whatsoever but some of them were at least understandable in some kind of way. But wanting the ex to be killed because you don’t want to see her with someone else? I understand that there are people like this out there who can’t handle their own jealousy but that she chose a letter like that made that little reason she had go awry for me.

Weird, convenient characters and relationships

Something else that was utterly unrealistic in my opinion were the relationships between some of the characters. I don’t understand why the author even bothered with creating this character of a father who is never there and when he is, doesn’t realize what’s going on. Not every father and daughter might me close but these too are complete strangers while living under the same roof. Same goes for him and his wife. And then there is this detective coming into her life which was all so convenient for her. I didn’t understand why he would have a single interest in starting this kind of friendship with her. And when it came to investigating he didn’t seem to have a glue.

No ups and downs

This is the story of a killer. We get to read about the actual murders. One might think that it gets at least a little bit exciting when those occur but it doesn’t. This girl is so good at killing people she is pretty much done in 30 seconds without breaking a sweat. Which was boring.
It’s not only that though. Not only were those murders without any thrill but I also never felt anything like fear of getting caught or excitement from the kill. Nothing. No feelings at all.
This whole story felt more like reading a contemporary book of a high school girl living her everyday life without anything special coming up.


I already read a lot of other serial killer books and thought this would be something new. I wish I could say that this book was just not what I expected. But even if I hadn’t any expectations at all, if I hadn’t read so many other books to compare this to, I wouldn’t have liked it. The overall story felt unrealistic, numb and made me want to grab this wannabe killer and ask her what the hell she is doing and can she please think for a second about it!?

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  • Oohh I’m sad that you didn’t like this one. I heard mixed things about it. EEPS now I’m scared to read it

  • Ich hatte mich schon gewundert als du bei Twitter über deine Wertung nachgedacht hast, denn eigentlich klang das Buch für mich vom Klappentext her echt spannend, finde solche mörderischen und raffinierten Brief-Spielchen in der Regel immer recht interessant :D

    Aber das sieht dann ja doch so aus als wäre das alles wenig durchdacht und insgesamt nicht Wunschlisten-tauglich. Was hat denn letztlich den Ausschlag für 2 Sterne statt einem gegeben?^^

    • Ganz so schlecht wie Asylum und Co war es dann doch nicht XD Der Schreibstil an sich war ganz okay und das Ende fand ich dann auch gut, das war zumindest endlich mal realistisch^^

  • Wow, so this story definitely sounds like it has some major holes. I’m sad to hear you didn’t enjoy it, I haven’t read it myself but I am just like you I love watching Criminal Minds and CSI. I’m interested in the whole psychology of a killer and their workings and for me this book does sound like it should it the nail on the head.

    I actually read once that there was a study that serial killers don’t understand the concept of fear, they don’t actually know how to feel it or understand that their victims feels it, interesting right? So maybe the loss of fear is due to that but I would hope to see some other emotion definitely, like joy, pleasure or just general release (a more darker workings of a criminal mind). I may have to second guess this book now, as I honestly trust your opinion.

Apr 11, 2014