Chelsea Cain's Heartsick introduced us to one of the most perverse relationships in recent fiction: the weird tie between femme fatale serial killer Gretchen Lowell and her obsessed pursuer, Detective Archie Sheridan. As Sweetheart begins, Archie deludes himself to thinking that is cured of his Gretchen obsession: He's stopped making his daily visits to her in prison, and he's focusing on his family and his job -- but then, just as another big case breaks, Gretchen escapes. When he gets the inevitable "Hello, darling. Have you missed me?" call, he knows that another roller-coaster ride has begun, but this time he vows that he will be the one in control.
Fortunately, most of us have never encountered a real serial killer, so we are all too pleased to give the author license as she invents Gretchen in wanton, wide-screen glory. Sweetheart is not a nuanced psychological thriller in the tradition of P. D. James or Margaret Atwood. The violence is too predictable and graphic to be terrifying. But the novel is sensual and engulfing. We feel Archie's every aching rib and taste the bitter narcotics he downs five pills at a time to banish his agony. We smell Gretchen's lilac perfume and the entrails she likes to leave as calling cards. But it is the marital drama entwined with the carnageArchie's conflict, his wife's protective rage and the menace posed by the ultimate home-wreckerthat keeps us turning the pages.
The New York Times
Cain's latest thriller returns to familiar territory as she revisits her Heartsick characters, Portland, Ore., detective Archie Sheridan and menacing serial killer Gretchen Lowell. This time Lowell escapes prison and is up to her old murderous tricks, and the only one who can catch her is, of course, Sheridan. As stereotypical as the story sounds, narrator Carolyn McCormick gives the tale heft with her first-rate performance and holds listeners rapt attention throughout. She delves into each and every character, offering realistic interpretations and strong readings that display her commanding stage presence. As strong as McCormick's female characters are, it is her role as Sheridan that sets her apart from many of today's female narrators. A St. Martin's Press hardcover (Reviews, July 17).(Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Has any police officer, actual or fictional, been more obsessed and manipulated by a serial killer than Portland detective Archie Sheridan? Cain's second trilogy entry (following the New York Times and Boston Globe best seller Heartsick) takes Archie, his partner, and a reporter on another wild ride in pursuit of Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell. The calm of Law & Order actress Carolyn McCormick (7th Heaven) prevails in this reading, though the musical cues for chapter and CD breaks are occasionally uneven. Gripping and intense despite some predictability; recommended. [With bonus author interview; audio clip available through us.macmillan.com; the Minotaur: St. Martin's hc was recommended "for all popular collections," LJ8/08.-Ed.]
The seductive force of the murderess who tortured and maimed him continues to complicate the workaday life of a hard-used policeman in Portland, Ore. The weird relationship between police detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell, established in Cain's 2007 Heartsick, has not been weakened by Gretchen's imprisonment. Even as he carries out his forensic duties, and much to the detriment of his embattled marriage, Archie keeps his meetings with gorgeous but gruesome Gretchen. (Before she went to the Big House, Gretchen reached into Archie's thorax and plucked out his spleen.) The visits with Gretchen ostensibly have to do with the need to pry from her the full list of her scores of victims, but if that weren't on the to-do list, Archie would probably find some other excuse to drop in on the woman the papers call the Beauty Killer. He certainly doesn't need the distraction. Bodies are continuing to turn up in the underbrush in a downtown city park, and a beloved senator has just plunged to his death from a Willamette River Bridge alongside a nosy journalist. The late reporter's blue-haired newspaper colleague Susan Ward has taken copious notes on all the corpses. She was about to break the long-hidden story of the senator's rape of a 14-year-old girl just before the accident, but now her editors have stepped on the report. Susan's not about to give up pushing her way into Archie's investigation. Then all hell breaks loose when Gretchen escapes. Archie knows his enchantress has engineered her jailbreak in order to get her hands back on the man she loves and loves to disembowel. Susan sticks with the story even as everything goes up in flames in one of those impressivePacific Northwest forest fires. Gretchen requires heavily engineered suspension of disbelief, but there are numerous thrills to be had and, underneath the Grand Guignol, there's a perfectly normal detective story. First printing of 200,000. Agent: Joy Harris/Joy Harris Literary Agency
“This is one of the best series in the contemporary thriller genre.” USA Today
“We've been down Hannibal Lecter Avenue many times, and these two books shouldn't work . . . but they do. Chalk it up to excellent writing and Cain's ferocious sense of humor.” Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
“Cain skillfully recruits us as moral caretakers as Archie struggles to overcome his sexual Stockholm Syndrome. . . . She invents Gretchen in wanton, wide-screen glory. . . . The novel is sensual and engulfing.” The New York Times Book Review