Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: September 4, 2007
Genre: Adult – Mystery / Thriller
Type: Series (Gretchen Lowell #1)
A LIVING NIGHTMARE.
Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer. In the end, she was the one who caught him… and tortured him… and then let him go. Why did Gretchen spare Archie’s life and then turn herself in? This is the question that keeps him up all night – and the reason why he has visited Gretchen in prison every week since. A DEADLY OBSESSION…
Meanwhile, another series of Portland murders has Archie working on a brand-new task force… and heading straight into the line of fire. The local news is covering the case 24/7, and it’s not long before Archie enters a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the killer — and his former captor. But this time, it’s up to Archie to save himself…
Why Am I here:
Beauty kills. Literally. Two years after detective Archie Sheridan was captured, tortured, and released by the Beauty Killer, Gretchen Lowell, he still hasn’t healed. A shadow of his former self, Archie’s addiction to pills is pretty much the only thing that gets him through the day – that, and his weekly visits with the now-imprisoned Gretchen Lowell. When a series of murders erupts the city, Archie must pull himself together in order to lead another hunt for a dangerous serial killer – and possibly free himself from Gretchen.
Plot and Placing: Read Me Like a Movie
Cain’s crisp, vivid writing-style had me devouring Heartsick as if it were a movie thriller; though it isn’t exactly the city of Portland that compels readers, it is Archie’s line of work – his life — that evidently becomes a page-turner. Cain introduces Archie in the midst of his torture – she nails (no pun intended) his and Gretchen’s story lines from the very start; their lives are entwined, and as Archie later finds out, he is inescapable from Gretchen’s hold. Through flashbacks of Archie’s gruesome torture, readers see first-handedly just how compelling the killer beauty, Gretchen Lowell, really is – it is revolting to see how far Gretchen goes, how far Cain is willing to depict Archie’s helplessness, and yet, you can’t seem to take your eyes off the page.
Character Thoughts: Heart-Stealers
Archie is brilliantly written, and I am glad Cain decided not to go the “tormented” route; Archie is broken, he’s lost, he’s obsessed with a killer who went to great lengths to break him – yet, he remains strong for the sake of his team. Archie doesn’t sit well with self-pity, nor other’s pitying him, and despite how unhealthy his life-after-torture is, he is trying to move on. He’s trying to be a detective.
Gretchen Lowell scares me to death, and it’s terrifying how obsessed I became reading her scenes. Every scene she is in, she steals the show – there’s something about how she carries her sense of beauty with power, how it affects everyone around her. No one knows how to deal with Gretchen because she is manipulative; she’s intimidating, she’s unpredictable, and even though she is imprisoned – there is no sense of safety or security with her presence. All I ask is to see more of her in the future. I get the feeling Cain hasn’t told even half her story yet. (Did I mention she likes to doodle with an X-acto knife?)
Addictive Factor: To Die For
Like I said, Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell steals the show – every time. She and Archie have this dynamic relationship going on – between the tortured and the torturer – there’s just something about Gretchen that brings out a different side of Archie. Gretchen revels at the art of killing – she enjoys holding someone’s life in her hands. She plays god in her own right, and though it is sickening to see, there’s something about serial killers like Gretchen — killer stories like this — that attracts the human mind.
Bookaholic Verdict: literally heartsick - where’s the next book!
Quotaholic: “She was not pretty. That was not the word for it. Pretty implied something girlish. Gretchen Lowell was beautiful in a very grown-up way, in a sophisticated, confident way. It was more than beauty; it was the power of beauty. She radiated it.“