Khanh the Killjoy

This is no Dexter

Dear Killer - Katherine Ewell

“The Perfect Killer is based in Chelsea and is a student,” I said loudly.
“You...didn’t know that,” I realized with a touch of despair. I had said too much.
I only wanted to prove my cleverness to him, seemingly using information that was public property. But instead I had given him new clues that could lead to me.


Well, way to fucking go.

This was just a terrible book. There are so many problems, I am at a loss because I'm not quite sure where to start.

So let's start from the beginning. This book is about a 17-year old female serial killer. Let's just use our literary suspension of disbelief and let this go because there is so much wrong with this book that the utter improbability of a child serial killer barely registers on the radar of incomprehensible idiocy.

Let's just believe, that 17-year old Kit is really a serial killer, groomed by good ole mommy (a gorgeous, blonde former serial killer herself, currently a Stepford Wife in disguise) to kill, since she was 9 years old.

When I was nine, we began to manage it together, and when I was twelve she let me have it all for my own. I only killed four between the ages of nine and twelve, but when I took absolute possession of the mailbox I set a quicker pace—about ten a year.

At the ripe old age of 17, Kit has developed a reputation for herself, she is known far and wide in London as the Perfect Killer. She has been responsible for over 50 deaths.

Ok, suspension of disbelief over. Now onto the real dumb shit.

The Writing & Narration: Is just terrible.

The writing is full of introspective bullshit that a 15-year old emo teenager might write in her notebook because she feels everything so strongly. It is pretentious, it makes me scratch my head. It is full of observations that just makes me laugh out loud because they are so completely ludicrous.

I wondered if the maids would be nervous too if they knew they were cleaning the house of murderers.

Note to self: NO SHIT.

Kit has the dumbest character observations. She goes into paragraphs and paragraphs to herself, wondering what a person is like, thinking about their characters, their clothes, what they're hiding beneath the surface. It doesn't come off as realistic so much as it gives us a sense that this is a pretentious teenager overthinking things. It doesn't help that her observations are of the "WELL, DUH" sort.

She had on this draped, toga-like dress patterned with green bamboo; it didn’t suit her figure, and it bothered me, but she was one of my favorite teachers despite her odd dressing habits. I’d had her a few years ago for an English class. She taught English when she wasn’t teaching philosophy, and I liked her and how she spoke. Her short black hair was no-nonsense, no-frills. She didn’t talk too fast. She took her time with things, and sometimes I even believed that she might understand me and why I killed. But I would never tell her, of course. She was legally obligated, as a teacher, to tell the police.

Note to self: NO SHIT.

Kit's long running narrative is excruciatingly painful to read. Her observations are way too much. They're just so incredibly silly.

BUT HIS EYES! HIS EYES! Kit is one of those sorts who reads everyone's emotions. And it is just terrible. .

...he looked almost upset, but the turmoil was mixed disturbingly with fury.

She seeeeeeeeeees so much into people's eyes.

His eyes tell me that he is thinking intently about something else, and also that he is sad about something or other.

The Dialogue & Kit's Acting: Artificial and utterly laughable. The characters' speech is overly flowery at times, completely wooden in others. It doesn't flow, it doesn't feel like actual dialogue.

Kit thinks she is an actress, she tries to be an actress; she feigns distress at times, and her acting is completely laughable. She yowls, she wails. I don't know quite how the other characters buy into her acts of distress when I don't believe in it myself.

“Yes, but I didn’t do it, I swear I didn’t, everyone is going to think that, but I swear I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t...,” I wailed insistently, and leaned more heavily against the window, quivering timidly. I even managed to make myself cry some more, tears leaking out of my eyes slowly.

Kit acts a LOT in this book. She pretends to be someone she's not, and it is unconvincing as hell. She pretends she's dumb. She pretends she cares. I can't pretend that I give a shit about her and her acting.

Kit's Arrogance: Kit is so fucking full of herself, I can't even deal with her. She always puts herself in a setting. She always poses. We always feel her sense of prime self-importance, and it pisses me off like nothing else. Kit appears in every scene like the prima donna in a movie.

I thought about us in our gray-walled, elegant hallway, the two slender blondes on the edge of an expensive rug, pale-skinned and frail-looking, pausing beneath famous photographs, drinking orange juice from designer glasses.

She is tallish, blonde, pretty enough, and she knows it. She constantly reminds us of how unthreatening she is, making sure that we know that she is good looking, but so self-deprecating that she doesn't really care how pretty she is.

They would see dark eyes under dark eyelashes, prominent collarbones, and a smattering of freckles dashed across a thin nose like Audrey Hepburn’s, the only truly beautiful feature of a small pale face—would they see a seventeen-year-old murderer?

The Letters: You know, for a serial killer, Kit doesn't exactly keep a low fucking profile. Everyone knows about her, it seems like everyone knows how to contact her---except for the police.

The reason is that everyone knows that there is a serial killer on the loose who takes orders to kill, all you have to do is write a letter, leave a sum of money inside the letter, and put it in a ultra special, secret "mailbox." A mailbox that everyone knows about, a mailbox where Kit comes regularly to check her mail and gets her killing orders---except for the police.

Kit gets a ton of these letters. And the police---those fuckin' incompetent, idiotic police, right? Just doesn't have a fucking clue.

Strangely few people knew about it, considering the fact that I was so famous. Not even the police knew about it. Or at least I assumed so, since they hadn’t taken control of or searched it yet.

Can you believe that? And there are a lot of fucking letters. A lot of people who knows about The Perfect Killer.

Letters nearly filled the mailbox, at least thirty of them.

The Killings: I love serial killers and I love the psychological insights that go on in the murderers' minds. There is no such complexity here. Kit and her mother can't seem to decide why they kill. They sometimes think they are playing Lady Justice.

You know why we kill. We kill because there is no justice. And without us, the world is lost—”

Except it's not true. There is no reason to these killing whatsoever other than vigilante justice, and then again, justice is delivered to those who do no wrong at all. Kit feels like she is delivering justice, when really, she is only killing for minor, stupid fucking reasons, like to avenge a lover's quarrel.

For example: Death #1; a man has done a drunk hit and run.

Dear Killer,
I had had too much to drink, maybe I shouldn’t have been driving, but I didn’t mean anything bad. I was just going home. But there was this red light and I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I drove through it—and there was this other car that swerved to avoid me, and it crashed and someone died.
I just kept driving.

Said fiancée wants the perpetrator to turn himself into the police. Said perpetrator doesn't want to do it. Said perpetrator writes a letter to Kit, ordering the earnest fiancée's death.

Kill her. Her name is Lily Kensington, and she lives at 28 Lark Place, in Chelsea. She gets home every night at nine.

Kit kills her.

I hardly call that justice.

Death #2: A crazed, obsessive lover wants Kit to kill his lover because...

It makes me angry. She makes me angry. But I love her. No one can have her but me, or I really am going to kill myself.
Please. Please kill her. If I can’t have her, no one can.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? How is that justice?! If someone is obsessed with me, it's hardly MY fucking fault. Do I deserve to die? Yes, according to Kit.

What Psychology?: This book is largely pointless. There is no psychology involved in these murders, the reason is absolutely stupid, and Kit's justification of it makes her character inconsistent. It feels like there is no point for the murders---and I would have actually preferred it that way, because in one sentence, it feels like Kit feels nothing, and in the next, she hates herself. Her character is so incredibly incongruous. This book can't decide what it wants Kit to be.

You Expect Us To Believe...:

1. That a 25-30 year old man (and projected love interest) is unofficially in charge of a serial killer who has killed over 50?

He was young. Younger than I had expected. Much younger, in fact. He couldn’t have been older than twenty-five or thirty. I remembered that my mom had said he was only unofficially in charge of the investigation.

And naturally, very attractive.

...he had a bit of a studious feel to him, as if he were a professor or some other scholar.
He was attractive. Surprisingly so.

OH PLEASE. Let's not fool ourselves. No fucking man that young can ever be in charge of a very, very important, very, very high profile serial killer investigation. The young Scotland Yard Sergeant was injected into this story because there was a need for a hot young guy in the book. That's all.

2. That Scotland Yard needs HELP from a random 17-year old who suddenly injected herself into the case?

“I was hoping you’d come. We need a new eye here. It’s the same deal as before—an untraceable murder. It’s frustrating.”

3. That Scotland Yard would share details about a serial killer's latest victim to said 17-year old girl?

“The couch pillows are still in place,” he said angrily. “No DNA, no fingerprints, no witnesses, no broken windows or picked locks, nothing. Nothing but the body.”

4. That a 17-year old girl would be allowed onto a serial killer's crime scene?

Alex let the tape fall, and shoulder to shoulder, we walked inside. Legitimate police officers passed by me, looking very official, making me feel like a child. Once we got into the front hallway, where Lily Kensington had put her hand on my shoulder, he gestured to the room to our left.

4. That if you kill a person on black carpeting, bloodstains can't be detected?

Black carpet so the bloodstains wouldn’t help the police solve the murder.

Because really, what's luminol for, anyway? Useless shit, right. Pfft.

A Good Serial Killer Doesn't...:

1. Inject herself into the crime case: Any criminal profiling school reject knows this. Murderers constantly return to the scene of the crime and try to get themselves closer to the police to get to know the case. And it's exactly what Kit does.

I walked into the Chelsea Police Station bearing pastries and a smile.

2. Ask the police about the crime herself.

“You’re a kid. Why are you following me to work? You want something, I can tell, but I don’t know what that is.”
“Ah...well...” I laughed nervously. “I want to know about the Perfect Killer.”

3. Go back to the scene of the crime where she very recently killed someone.

When we got to the crime scene, there was crime-scene tape everywhere and a near army of reporters.
I did my best to keep them from seeing my face, given the fact that they were possible witnesses. Of course, I was subtle about it.

Subtle. Yes, because that helps so much.

4. Bumble the fuck up when getting into a victim's home.

I looked around, biting my lip. I needed to get in. Usually by this point in the conversation I was already inside.
“Actually, I have to talk to you about something,” I murmured.
“Yeah, well, whatever you want to talk to me about, we can talk right here,” she said, leaning against the doorway imposingly, making it clear that she was taller and stronger than me. Her expression was distinctly unfriendly.
“It’s...well...I don’t want to,” I said childishly, petulantly.

5. Get to know your victim for months before killing them.

“Fair enough. We’re friends, then?”
She smiled a soft smile, ever so slightly.
“Yeah. Friends.”
My stomach churned a bit.

6. Threaten a boy in front of everyone in your class...

“Stop playing games,” I hissed.
Yet again, everyone was listening. They had stopped what they were doing and they were all listening to us, wondering if we would deteriorate into physical violence again.

7. ...and then kill him and "discover" his body, at your school.

“How did you discover the body?”
“I just...went to the bathroom, and he was there, on the floor.” I shuddered.

8. Have a romantic moment over a corpse.

And here, in the hallway, despite the darkness of the situation, emotions began to float up in my chest again, accentuated and amplified by the physical closeness between Alex and me.

Fuck this book.

Quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof subject to change in the final edition.