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Heartsick [Mass Market Paperback]

Chelsea Cain
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 29 2008 Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell (Book 1)

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.

Meanwhile, another series of murders is tearing up the Portland streets. Archie seems to be getting closer to solving this high-profile case…until he finds himself in a fatal collision course with the killer—one that inevitably leads him back to his former captor. Gretchen may be the only one who can help do justice. The only thing she can’t do, this time, is save Archie’s life.

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From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It's a long way from a Nancy Drew parody (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, 2005) to one of the most original serial-killer thrillers to appear in several years, but Cain makes the leap unscathed. Throw out all your assumptions about the sameness of serial-killer novels; this one breaks the mold. Yes, the notorious Gretchen Lowell is behind bars throughout the novel (a la Hannibal Lecter), and, yes, she counsels the Portland, Oregon, cop who is chasing a new sociopath, but unlike in Silence of the Lambs, Archie Sheridan, Cain's detective hero, was one of Lowell's victims. (After kidnapping and killing more than 200 people, Lowell captured and tortured Sheridan, then inexplicably let him live.) So two plotlines unfold alternately, each feeding the other: the grisly backstory of what Lowell did to Sheridan ("Whatever you think this is going to be like," she whispers, "it's going to be worse"), and the real-time account of Sheridan's search for a new serial killer who is preying on teenage girls from Portland's high schools. The plots are thickened by costar Susan Ward, a pink-haired, punky reporter, and by Sheridan's addiction to prescription drugs—and his unbreakable emotional attachment to Lowell, his torturer and savior. Cain never misses a beat here, turning the psychological screws ever tighter for both Sheridan and Ward while drawing us deep into the nightmare that lives inside Gretchen Lowell's head. Sheridan will remind thriller fans of Ridley Pearson's Lou Boldt, and Cain's use of Portland as a setting—contrasting the charm of the city against the horror of the crimes—echoes Pearson's similar use of Seattle. But Heartsick is in no way deriviative. This could well be the thriller of the year. Ott, Bill --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By GinRobi
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Archie Sheridan is a detective with the Portland PD. During his rookie year as a detective, eleven years ago, he'd joined the task force that had been set up to capture the serial killer known as The Beauty Killer. For years, they tried to capture the killer, who evaded them, until a beautiful woman came into the picture. She approached the task force, introduced herself as a psychologist, and baited Archie until she kidnapped him, and tortured him. She kills Archie, but, unlike her previous victims, she brought him back, dialed 9-1-1 and turned herself in. And yet, she's not done torturing Archie, and he knows it.

Two years later, divorced from his wife, refusing to see his kids and addicted to prescription drugs, Archie is asked to head a new task force for a new serial killer, one who kidnaps teenage girls, strangles them, rapes them, douses them with bleach and dumps them in the river. With barely any clues or leads, they are on the hunt for the After School Strangler.

Meanwhile, Susan Ward, feature writer for the Herald, is assigned to follow Archie and write a feature about him. Dogging his heels, Susan sees things most reporters wouldn't unless they were to stumble upon a body themselves. For Susan, the After School Strangler hits close to home, for, years before, she'd actually gone to one of the murdered teenagers.

And all the while, hunting for a new serial killer, Archie continues his visits with Gretchen in prison every Sunday. The reason? Supposedly because she will give up a body of one of her victims; name and location of burial, but it has to be Archie. Does he go simply for closer to her victims families, or is there something more? Will they catch the After School Strangler before the fourth victim is found dead?

Incredible novel!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Suspense, filled with twists! Nov. 3 2009
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
What I like about it is there's actually a female serial killer this time and she acts close to Hannibal Lecter with some minor differences. It sure is nice to see an evil female part though. It's a refreshing sight instead of having females always being portrayed as victims. The plot got better and better through each chapter and it just seemed as if the book went by really quickly - perhaps because I was just too engrossed in the book. You get two different stories here in this book. You have the current case Archie is on, then you also have chapters in between where they are flashbacks of Archie when he was being held captive by Gretchen. They were gruesome and rather hard to swallow but it added a lot of depth into Archie's character and explains to you why he is how he is. I thought that was pretty well done as it's a great way of explaining his character and his behavior. Gretchen made a wonderful villain. Manipulative, cunning, cruel, sadistic, all in one very attractive package it was perfectly done and even in prison she still continues to fiddle with her puppet strings.

It wasn't blatantly obvious who the culprit was behind the murders of the teenage girls, which was good, and it kept you guessing. What I liked was it wasn't until the last minute when you actually found out who it was and by that time it was cleverly done that you wish you could have seen it in the first place. There were a few twists and turns with the final twist happening between Gretchen and Archie. I thought that was great and it left me asking for more.

No doubt there will be sequels and I see this as a promising series. I'm left wanting to know what's going to happen in the next book. I'm definitely looking forward to reading it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Aug. 24 2008
By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAME TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Shadow knows, and he also knows that said evil lurking isn't the exclusive territory of men. In this creepy thriller, Chelsea Cain introduces a heartless female serial killer named Gretchen Lowell, who's so psychopathic and cruel that she makes Jack the Ripper look almost normal.

We also meet Archie Sheridan, a detective who was tortured and mutilated by Gretchen for ten days, and yet lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately for Archie, Gretchen still has her hooks deeply imbedded, and he can't seem to release himself from her calculating clutches.

Then there's Susan Ward, a reporter with a skeleton in her closet, and a weakness for men she can't or shouldn't have. Sure enough, Susan is chosen to cover Archie's story, and this takes her deep into the territory of another serial killer who's abducting and strangling the young girls of Portland.

If you like your murder mysteries bloody and nerve tingling, and aren't too particular about the accuracy of every detail once it doesn't detract from the plot, then you should enjoy this page-turner. Cain paints Gretchen as the epitome of evil, and you can almost feel her menacing aura radiating through the pages.

This novel is about two serial killers, but one of them is certainly in a class by herself, more than making up for an unlikely ending and a few stretches of the imagination. With this book, Cain proves that when it comes to serial killing, the best man for the job just may be a woman.

Amanda Richards
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