09 October 2014

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind---addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie's a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she's right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth---he can't stay away.

When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.

Where do I sign up to become a member of the Gretchen Lowell fan club? I haven’t been this enthralled with a psychotic serial killer since Hannibal. Chelsea Cain has an amazing way of taking words and turning them into spell binding stories. She’s able to weave together a thrilling tale while jam packing it with so much emotion you’re not sure whether you should be cheering the main characters on or be appalled by their actions.

The connection between Portland Detective Archie Sheridan and the infamous Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell is strange, fascinating and scary. I was so wrapped up in this book that by the last page I was suffering from a bit of Stockholm’s syndrome.

Archie Sheridan is a Portland Police Detective who spent 10 years tracking down serial Killer Gretchen Lowell. Before he was able to catch her she kidnapped and tortured him for 10 days. In a twist that breaks her normal motive Lowell mysteriously decides to let Archie go and turns herself over to the authorities. Archie may have physically survived the Beauty Killer but he’s still psychologically trapped in that room. It’s been two years since that fateful event and Archie isn’t the same man he once was. He’s become obsessed with his former torturer. He feels connected to her in ways that shame him yet also motivate him.

Portland is once again dealing with another killer. Someone is taking young teenage girls off the streets and Archie has been called back into action to help. A young pink haired reported named Susan Ward profiles the infamous detective as he combs through evidence trying to catch the After School Strangler. Susan’s energetic push to dig in and find out more about Archie leads to a deadly psychological game between Ward, Lowell, Sheridan and the After School Strangler. It’s an action packed thriller with layer upon layer of story telling, switching back and forth between the current case and to flashbacks of when Archie was kidnapped and tortured by Lowell.

The psychological suspense in both subplots, create an interesting and compelling set of characters and each has their own distinct voice. I couldn’t get enough of Heartsick.


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