Evil at Heart (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series #3)
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Evil at Heart (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series #3)

4.2 172
by Chelsea Cain

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Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she's more of a cause célèbre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, Portland Herald reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre fan club


Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she's more of a cause célèbre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, Portland Herald reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre fan club which celebrates the number of days she's been free…

Archie Sheridan hunted Gretchen for a decade, and after his last ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong, he remains hospitalized months later. When they last spoke, they entered a détente of sorts—Archie agreed not to kill himself if she agreed not to kill anyone else. But when a new body is found accompanied by Gretchen's trademark heart, all bets are off and Archie is forced back into action. Is the Beauty Killer back—or has the cult surrounding her created a whole new evil?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“She's the most twisted--and most beautiful--serial killer on the planet, and she's back... It's not to be missed.” —USA Today

“You have to hand it to Cain, who's made the serial-killer genre a thoroughly female-friendly experience. . . . [She] churns stomachs with a delicate touch.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Remember the old debate about which is mightier, the pen or the scalpel? In Evil at Heart, both are in the same hands, and both cut all the way to the bone.” —The Oregonian

“Cain is among a new breed of women writers stepping way out of the stereotypical female comfort zones… serving up meatier and more gruesome stories…. Cain knows how to keep readers fortified with psychological drama.” —Chicago Sun Times

“The narrative bounces along with Cain's trademark mix of tight plotting, creepy characters, and body parts.” —Charlotte Observer

“Cain continues to display her remarkable ability to probe the psyches of her characters... Popular entertainment--the kind that mixes crime, horror, and even a little black comedy--just doesn't get much better than this.” —Booklist (starred review)

This unconventional thriller brings together Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell, certainly one of the oddest couples in crime fiction history. Homicide detective Sheridan has somehow survived the ordeals recounted in Heartsick and Sweetheart and is resting not so comfortably in an Oregon hospital, attempting to cure his addiction to Vicodin and his obsession with serial killer Lowell. Meanwhile, "Beauty Killer" Gretchen is still on the run and rapidly becoming an improbable folk hero, complete with fan websites and slay site fan tours. As if all that is not tasteless enough, new murders begin to surface that raise an ominous question: Are these tribute killings by a copycat or is Gretchen back on the prowl? Taut plots; characters with captivating dysfunctions; an author to watch.
Publishers Weekly
Gretchen Lowell strikes again—or does she?—in bestseller Cain's grisly third thriller to feature the female serial killer who takes sadistic pleasure in taunting Portland, Ore., detective Archie Sheridan (after Sweetheart and Heartsick). A violent attack that leaves body parts in a rest stop bathroom, along with Lowell's signature heart design, persuades Sheridan, a recovering Vicodin addict, to leave rehab and rejoin the hunt for Lowell. As he and newspaper reporter Susan Ward dig deeper, they discover that while the corpses cropping up around town are reminiscent of Lowell's nasty handiwork, they might also point to one of the myriad fan clubs dedicated to the killer, who has become a media sensation since she escaped from prison in Heartsick. Even though readers may wonder how much longer this extended game can play out, Cain delivers her usual blend of organ-ripping, blood-soaked gore and compelling flawed heroes—and antiheroes. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Just two months after serial killer Gretchen Lowell, aka the "Beauty Killer," escapes from police custody (see Sweetheart), body parts begin showing up in random Portland, OR, locales. Meanwhile, devastated Det. Archie Sheridan continues to languish in a mental hospital, while irrepressible journalist Susan Hunt longs to save him and her story. Her story—and the essence of this thriller—goes beyond Gretchen's certifiable status as a psychopathic killer and instead examines society's morbid glorification of gruesome, ritualistic killings. Have Gretchen's despicable acts spawned more evil? Archie reemerges, determined to kill Gretchen this time, but then puzzling inconsistencies suggest that a copycat killer is at work. Archie and Susan match their wits against the opposition, meeting people who defy all the rules and experiencing horrors beyond comprehension. VERDICT This sequel can't top the jaw-dropping horror of Cain's Heartsick, but her snappy pace and sustained creepiness keep the pages turning at a steady clip. Not for the faint of heart, this addictive thriller will be quickly devoured by serial killer addicts. Gretchen Lowell has taken on a persona not unlike Hannibal Lector. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09; library marketing campaign and 200,000-copy first printing.]—Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Detective Archie Sheridan (Sweetheart, 2008, etc.) continues his danse macabre with serial killer Gretchen Lowell in what might well be the year's most repellent novel. She's extracted his spleen, hammered nails into his chest, broken his ribs, whittled away at him with an X-Acto knife, but these and an array of other scarifications, emotional as well as physical, have not dampened Archie's ardor. He remains crazy about Gretchen Lowell, aka the Beauty Killer. And crazy, too, in the sense that as the result of her ministrations, he currently resides in Portland, Ore.'s Providence Medical Center, termed by Archie "the loony bin." As for Gretchen, until recently she's been residing in the slammer, where Archie helped put her. Having busted out, however, she's up to her old tricks-murdering with undiminished enthusiasm, leaving her signature heart carved into the torsos of her victims, usually before they're dead. Seldom indeed, when in the hands of Gretchen the grotesque, does anyone die in a hurry. And now, perversely, she's become a media darling. Her glam photographs seem omnipresent. She sells newspapers, she boosts ratings, she has fan clubs: global constituencies, gleefully marking the days their hero has been able to elude slew-footed police forces-76 and counting. So suddenly the question takes on an unsettling nuance. Is it Gretchen and Gretchen alone who's been dismembering and disemboweling? Or has she been joined by copycats? It's enough to get Archie into his clothes, out of the hospital and back into bossing his catch-Gretchen task force, the trauma of it all having driven him sane. Archie wallows in victimhood and Gretchen is a mindless, robotic monster. Is loathsomeness asgood a sales driver as sex? Clearly, Cain's publisher has decided to bet it is.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series, #3
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.78(w) x 4.16(h) x 0.94(d)

Read an Excerpt


The rest stop off I-84 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River was vile, even by rest- stop standards. Graffiti covered the white subway- tile walls; the paper- towel and toilet- paper dispensers had been emptied, their contents now strewn on the concrete floor. Two of the metal stall doors were pulled off their top hinges and hung at odd angles. It smelled like a parking- garage stairwell, that peculiar marriage of urine and cement.

Eighteen miles from the nearest bathroom, and they end up at a rest stop trashed by hooligans. There was no alternative. Amy put her hands on her hips and stared at her eleven- year- old daughter.

"Come on, Dakota," she said.

Dakota’s blue eyes widened. "I’m not going in there," she said.

This is what the whole road trip had been like. They had been making the annual drive up from Bakersfield to see Erik’s family in Hood River every summer since Dakota had been a toddler. She had always loved it. This year she had spent the whole trip texting friends and listening to her iPod. Maybe if Dakota hadn’t been

such a little jackass for the last two days, Amy would have been more sympathetic.

"Just squat over the bowl," Amy said.

Dakota bit her lip, leaving a glob of pink lip gloss on her front tooth. "It’s gross," she said.

"Want me to see if the men’s room is any better?" Amy asked.

Dakota’s cheeks flushed. "No way," she said.

"You said you had to go," Amy said. In fact, after not going in the restaurant they had stopped at for dinner, Dakota had quickly begun insisting that her bladder was going to burst and that if it did she was going to use it to seek emancipated minor status under California law. Amy didn’t even know what the fuck that was, but it seemed serious. So here they were, at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere.

There was a banging at the door. "What are you guys doing in there?" Erik called. They were twenty minutes from his sister’s house. If they didn’t get there soon, Amy knew that Erik was going to lose it. He had already been white- knuckling the wheel for the past ten miles. Who was she kidding? She was the one who was going to lose it.

"She doesn’t want to use any of the toilets," Amy called to her husband.

"Then come outside and go behind a tree," Erik called back.

"Dad!" Dakota said.

Amy pushed open the door to the last stall. It was cleaner than the rest, or at least less filthy. Toilet paper in the dispenser. No visible human waste. That was a start. "What about this one?" Amy asked her daughter.

Dakota took a few tentative steps up behind her and peered into the toilet bowl. "There’s something in there," she said, pointing limply to the pale pink water in the bowl.

Amy didn’t have time to explain to her daughter the effect of beets on pee. "Just flush it," Amy said. She turned and walked over

to the row of white sinks and waited. She heard the toilet flush and felt a little bit of the tension bleed from her shoulders. They would be on the road soon. Erik’s sister would have wine waiting. Erik’s sister always had wine waiting.

"Mom?" Amy heard her daughter ask.

What now?

Amy turned and saw her daughter standing in the stall, the metal door swung open. Dakota’s face was white, blank, her hands balled into fists. The toilet was overflowing, water spilling over the lid onto the floor, forming a puddle that seemed to almost have a tide. Only there was something in the water. It swirled with veins of red. It looked almost menstrual. And for a second Amy thought, Did Dakota get her period?

The bloody water streaked down along the outside of the white toilet bowl, onto the floor, under Dakota’s sneakers, and toward where Amy stood frozen. There was something in the toilet, something that had bobbed to the surface and now sat at rim level. A piece of something raw. Flesh. Like some maniac had skinned and drowned a rat. It sat on the edge of the bowl for a moment and then slopped onto the floor and slid forward, skimming Dakota’s sneaker and disappearing under the next stall.

Dakota shrieked and scrambled forward out of the stall into Amy’s arms, not even looking back when her iPod slipped from her hands and landed at the base of the toilet with a deadening splash.

Amy forced herself to swallow the warm saliva that rose in her throat, marshaling her will not to gag. It wasn’t a rat. It was definitely not a rat.

"Mom?" Dakota said.

"Yes?" Amy whispered. The iPod was still playing. Amy could hear some tinny pop song coming out of the half- submerged white earbuds. Then, just like that, it stopped.

"I don’t have to go to the bathroom anymore," Dakota said.

Excerpted from Evil At Heart by Chelsea Cain.

Copyright 2009 by Verite Inc.

Published in September 2009 by St. Martin's Press,.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

Chelsea Cain is the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Season, Sweetheart and Heartsick. Both Heartsick and Sweetheart were listed in Stephen King's Top Ten Books of the Year in Entertainment Weekly. Chelsea lived the first few years of her life on an Iowa commune, then grew up in Bellingham, WA, where the infamous Green River killer was "the boogieman" of her youth. The true story of the Green River killer's capture was the inspiration for the story of Gretchen and Archie. Cain lives in Portland with her husband and daughter.

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Evil at Heart (Gretchen Lowell Series #3) 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 172 reviews.
M-Ekim-K More than 1 year ago
I'm going to keep this short and sweet. I picked up the book the day it came out and finished before I went to bed, and all I can say is wow. It was that good. You'd think the characters would get boring or the plot would be repetitive. However, Chelsea Cain continues to impress and the only down side of this book is having to wait for the next one. I cant wait to see what she still has in store for these characters.
Tomes-Devotee More than 1 year ago
As always Ms. Cain does not dissapoint! Gretchen Lowell is so twisted and an insane genious, it's amazing. She knows just how to manipulate, and she can read people so well it is shocking. Archie is so on the edge. If it would have been available to him he would have slipped right back into his drugged haze. I fully enjoyed this book, I was proud that Archie fought his demons, as hard as it was for him. I'm sad about he and his wife. We'll have to see, since there is most certainly an opportunity for #4. The only thing that bothered me was all the crap that keeps happening to him and reporter, uh I mean journalist, since she prefers that title, Susan Ward. It's like, oh my gosh, what else is gonna happen. Kind of reminded me of Andy Sipowitz from NYPD Blue, everything under the sun that could go wrong did! It starts to get a little old. That and the fact that Archie lied to his partner Henry. Cop partners have a very special relationship, and Hank loves Arhie and has had Archie's back, has saved him and pulled him back from the depths so often, I was shocked that the author allowed that to be. All in all, an awesome read. Gretchen Lowell is without a doubt a fantasic psycho, Ms Cain has outdone herself with this series and hope she gives us more!
Kasia_S More than 1 year ago
Previous book in this series, "Sweetheart" was scorching hot but this was more of a drawn out tepid bath, it wasn't bad but it certainly lacked the spice. I recommend reading these in order, and for those who haven't read "Heart Sick "and "Sweetheart" this shouldn't be the starting place, that said I'm happy I got to read it but a bit disappointed to how it turned out. The sheer lunacy of Gretchen being a superstar in the media world was hard to believe, people are obsessed more than ever with the Beauty Killer, her images are selling newspapers, there are clubs and secret societies obsessed with her, tee shirts and mugs with her name on them, all a game with a sick undertone, that was something I had a really hard time believing as I don't fall easily for charms and gimmicks of any sort, and I certainly don't believe in glorifying any sort of man killing scum, not even one as pretty as Gretchen. The woman who can manipulate men to do her bidding as she uses her body and seduction to keep them glued to her, is on the run and no one seems to know how to track her except for Archie, trouble is that he has voluntarily checked into a psych-ward and is considered a citizen until proven non threatening to himself. The game is back on but this time it circles around a story that I frankly wasn't interested in, the possibility of copy-cat killings was just too much as it took the bulk of this novel into directions that didn't seem interesting. I wanted some sort of a conclusion and battle between Gretchen and Archie ad this sadly wasn't it. The writing was silky and smooth as ever but the topic was less satisfactory, something was gone from the novel, perhaps it all lays in Gretchen and without her the storyline loses it's bulk and that pleasurable buzz. If something else comes out in this series I will read it but with caution and weariness, I felt like I jumped into it and came out a bit disappointed, although it's hard to say why without spoiling most of the time line and one major reason for being disappointed depends on lack of something very specific. It was a fast read, that I can say but I didn't think it would be less pungent than its predecessor, it wasn't as gory and shocking as it' believed, more like a filler between two other books. - Kasia S.
SoundCritique More than 1 year ago
Undoubtedly, the cover and title are a draw for this book, but I found the plot to be redundant and a near duplicate of so many others in the genre. In the real world, how many serial killers are there? Can't someone in the literary industry come up with a new concept or write about something equally thrilling as it is realistic?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does this book have other books in its series? I mean in the first two books, because i think this is the 3rd book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name- DeathNote<p> Gender- Tom<p> Age- ..<p> Looks- grey body, dark grey ears, legs, and tailtip. Blue eyes.<p> Name- Rainfall<p> Gender- Shecat<p> Age- uh..<p> Crush- UUHH..<p> Kits- Once.<p> Mate- First, hawksky (DEADTOME) then firesteel. Both are dead.<p> Looks- Grey with white paws and a dark grey striped tail, like raccon. Amber eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: ScarredHunger. <p> Looks: A dark brown tom withhis body fur covering his black paws,and tailtip. He has deep amber to red eyes and black nose. He also has black ears, back stripes, black chest, and white belly. E has a long clawmark inching across his body and legs. His claws and teeth are long and white with red tips. He has a couple scars, his noticable bloody one that follows up his belly. From BloodClan. <p> Kin:-dad- LuckStar Mom- Ambereyes. <p> Brothers- FluteClaw <p> Sisters- Lightfur, FernWhisper, and ShellPelt <p> Mate- none <p> Crush- MistyFur of BloodClan and RainFall <p> Kits- none <p> Other- Leader of The Fallen and when upset is TigerClaw.
PainFrame More than 1 year ago
Let&rsquo;s get out of here.  I enjoy this series quite a bit, the murders are always creepy and I never get ahead of the characters in solving the mysteries, but the best thing has got to be the three excellent main characters. You&rsquo;ve got Archie, the increasingly battle-damaged detective; Susan, the reporter packed full of Tyler Durden caliber facts; and Gretchen, who is WAY more than just a gender-swapped Hannibal Lecter. This is a worthy sequel to the previous two novels and probably could have served as an exit point for the author to go do something else - but it didn&rsquo;t! The Night Season is next.
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acorley84 More than 1 year ago
As always, Chelsea Cain didn't disappoint with Evil at Heart. I don't know how she does it but she comes up with some of the most evil, twisted, sick, perverse things one could possibly ever imagine. Sometimes it makes you wonder how a person could come up with such things! Either way, I love it and can never wait to get my hands on the next one. You have such a diverse set of characters in this series and you can't help but want to read about them! Gretchen who is twisted as ever, Archie, the ever so faulted detective, Henry, the almighty prim and proper protective detective, and Susan, the flamboyant witty reporter! What a set of characters, but I love reading about them and continuing on their journeys with them. Just as with the previous two books, Cain leaves you wanting more. I listened to the audio version and have never been able to get so lost in a book as I do with Cain's novels. I find myself being able to complete her stories in very few sittings because I just get so lost in the reading. Overall, a 5 star read and I can't wait to start the next one!
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just-deb More than 1 year ago
Unimaginable.  This book went a little overboard at times and was overdone, but I still found it a sort of fun read.
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I REALLY enjoyed this book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not sure why some authors don't know when enough is enough....but kind of really feeling burned out by the main antagonist in this series. I have read series of 20+ books and 35+ books, but this character is getting tooooooo unbelievable, even for fiction. Hope the next one is not soooo wrapped around this extremely magical person....she sure makes everyone else look pretty lame and doesn't say much for law enforcement.
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