“DYNAMITE…ONE OF THE MOST SEDUCTIVE AND ORIGINAL PSYCHOPATHS since Hannibal Lecter.” Entertainment Weekly
“Suspenseful…plenty of grisly surprises.” The New York Times Book Review
“A novel you CAN'T AFFORD TO MISS.” USA Today
“Completely entrancing…totally original...UTTERLY UNFORGETTABLE.” Dominick Dunne
“HEARTSICK HAS IT ALL: a tortured cop, a fearless and quirky heroine, and what may be the creepiest serial killer ever created. AN ADDICTIVE READ!” Tess Gerritsen
“OUTSTANDING.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
There should be small wonder why an inveterate watcher like Chuck Palahniuk should call Chelsea Cain's Gretchen Lowell "the most compelling, most original serial killer since Hannibal Lecter." Mass murderers don't generally act, of course, like normal human beings. But Gretchen Lowell goes a step further: She doesn't even behave like other serial killers. For example, she turned herself in; not a common strategy for a ghoul, one might say. And before that, she did something equally strange. She captured and tortured Archie Sheridan, the Portland detective who had been tracking her for ten years. But she didn't kill him; in fact, she freed him. And now Archie has real problems, and he visits her every week in prison...
One of the challenges for the thriller writer who takes on the catch-the-serial-killer subgenre is the ever escalating ante, one author’s diabolically perverse criminal demanding the next's invention of a murderer just that much more diabolical and perverse. In Gretchen Lowell, Cain has created a femme fatale with an appetite for cruelty that will be difficult to surpass…Heartsick is a dizzying novel. Lurid and suspenseful with well-drawn characters, plenty of grisly surprises and tart dialogue, it delivers what readers of this particular kind of thriller expect.
The New York Times
The setup may be familiar, but Cain's greatest accomplishment is creating a hybridmarrying the explicit content of splatter cinema to the conventions of an airport novel. Three things distinguish Heartsick: some sharp writing, a great locale (drizzly Portland is a sullen, noirish, minor-key backdrop), and the third main character, young reporter Susan Ward.
The Washington Post
McCormick delivers an uneven performance in her reading of Cain's bestselling debut thriller. Gretchen Lowell, "The Beauty Killer," was one of the most prolific serial killers in history, claiming over 200 lives. Her only surviving victim was Archie Sheridan, the lead detective on the task force set up to apprehend her. Archie was tortured for days until Lowell inexplicably turned herself in. Two years later Archie is still a victim, on leave from the force, estranged from his family, addicted to pain pills and obsessively visiting Gretchen weekly. When a new killer begins murdering teenage girls, Archie is called back into action. By his side is an ambitious, pink-haired news reporter who may become her own page-one headline. The usually reliable McCormick has a rocky start with the first few chapters. Her clipped, overarticulation of each line keeps listeners at a distance instead of immersing them in the mesmerizing events taking place. However, she does improve as the story moves forward, and her rich, throaty portrayal of Gretchen Lowell is the perfect blend of predator and seductress. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Reviews, July 16). (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Portland, OR, never felt drearier than it does in this thriller debut. Without a doubt, psychopathic Gretchen Lowell, a convicted serial killer, pulls all the strings from her prison cell. Just consider her current exploitation list: Archie Sheridan, the Vicodin-addicted detective whom she kidnapped and almost killed two years earlier; Susan Ward, the spunky, young newspaper features writer who's attempting to profile Sheridan; and, finally, the current serial killer, who is targeting high school girls and putting the entire city in lockdown mode. Using flashbacks and psychological tension, Cain (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth) has crafted a gory suspense piece that is absolutely impossible to put down. Sheridan's current case, a hurried analysis of local high school suspects, is almost secondary to the horror of Lowell's personality. Sheridan's suffering makes him an empathetic hero, and Susan's foolish mistakes give the novel its requisite twists. Readers may figure out the "new" killer's identity early on, but Cain never lets up on the pace. Stylistically, this is great stuff for true-crime readers and for those who enjoy Jan Burke's Irene Kelly series. Recommended for all popular collections; expect a series. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ5/1/07; a 200,000 first printing.]
Teresa L. Jacobsen
A detective, emotionally damaged after his own kidnapping, pursues a serial killer of young girls in Portland, Ore. Two years ago, homicide detective Archie Sheridan was kidnapped while tracking beautiful but treacherously demented serial killer Gretchen Lowell. After torturing Archie for days, Gretchen eventually saved his physical life by calling 911 and turning herself in, but Archie's existence has been fundamentally ruined. Separated from his wife, he is addicted to various prescription painkillers and remains on disability from his work as a homicide detective. Every Sunday Archie visits Gretchen in prison, ostensibly because he is the only one to whom she'll disclose the locations of her 200 (!) murder victims. In fact, he is addicted to her control over him. Despite Archie's fragile emotional state, when someone starts murdering 14-year-old girls, the police department asks him to take charge of the case. As the cop who survived a kidnapping, Archie has become a celebrity, and the local paper arranges for a young reporter, Susan Ward, to profile him as he works the new case. Susan does not realize that Archie is manipulating her. He hopes her revealing articles about him spurs Gretchen, who has recently gone silent, to offer up the whereabouts of more bodies. Susan finds easy access to interviews with Archie's ex-wife Debbie, who turns out to be a sophisticated artist, his doctor, who describes Archie's torture as unimaginably cruel, and even Gretchen, who is frighteningly on target about Susan's own ghosts. Susan's father died when she was 14. As a freshman at Cleveland High, where one of the recent victims attended school, she may or may not have had an inappropriate sexualrelationship with her drama teacher. Archie realizes almost too late that Gretchen has actually been setting her own trap, and Susan is the intended victim. Despite obvious red herrings, Cain (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, 2005) creates a cleverly contorted thriller plot and characters with memorable personalities.