To everyone around her --- her classmates, teachers and neighbors --- Kit appears to be an ordinary teenage girl. She does her homework, goes shopping and spends time with her mother. But since childhood, she's been trained to be a killer, like her mother was before her. The Perfect Killer to be exact, an infamous serial killer no one can catch, and no one would suspect is actually a teenage girl.
Kit's life is based on order, and her killings help frame that order. She's a hired assassin, and to choose her victims, she just needs to retrieve the letters that arrive behind a ceiling tile in the women's bathroom of a local coffee shop, all containing payment, all beginning the same way:"Dear Killer."
"The author does an excellent job of mapping Kit's character, her emotional detachment tinged with curiosity and her ability to read people's emotions without really caring about them."
But two things have disrupted the order of her life --- a strange new friendship with the cop assigned to the Perfect Killer case and a letter asking her to kill a classmate. Kit always follows through with her kills. Even as her new friend seems to be getting closer to the truth, even as she discovers the writer of the letter is another, almost evil classmate, even as she begins to grow close to her intended victim. She will find a way to follow through with the job.
DEAR KILLER is a tense thriller, a unique young adult novel that's incredibly dark yet cold. Kit doesn't allow herself to form true friendships, and though her work fills her with a fire and drive, it doesn't plague her conscience as a reader might expect.
Possibly the most interesting story thread is Kit's relationship with her distant father. More even than the controlling mother who trained her to kill, Kit longs for the love and acceptance of her father, yet fairly readily resigns herself to a life without it.
The author does an excellent job of mapping Kit's character, her emotional detachment tinged with curiosity and her ability to read people's emotions without really caring about them.
The main stumbling block of the story is technical. With a steady diet of CSI and other crime shows, readers might be confused as to how Kit can go so many years without being caught. There are mentions of her avoiding fingerprints, but not a hair or fiber that could be found and traced back to her in so many years seems unlikely.
DEAR KILLER is suspenseful and sometimes shocking. It's a novel that will stay with you, one you'll want to loan to your friends so you can discuss it.
Reviewed by Molly Horan on May 16, 2014