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Heartsick: A Novelby Chelsea Cain
Characters are what make a thriller memorable to me. The first in a series, Heartsick is full of richly drawn characters positioned in a triangulated relationship. In pursuit of a serial killer on a spree, our tormented protagonist, Archie Sheridan, must revisit his old demons and flash back on some truly disturbing violence done to him by the "Beauty Killer," a female serial killer from a former case. Don't pick up Heartsick when an early morning follows, as it will be the wee hours before you snap off your light.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Heartsick has it all: a tortured cop, a fearless and quirky heroine, and what may be the creepiest serial killer ever created. This is an addictive read!" Tess Gerritsen
"With Gretchen Lowell, Chelsea Cain gives us the most compelling, most original serial killer since Hannibal Lecter." Chuck Palahniuk
"Chelsea Cain's novel is completely entrancing and totally original — what a read. Between the humanity of Portland cop Archie Sheridan and the chilling and twisted design of his beautiful nemesis, Gretchen Lowell, Heartsick is utterly unforgettable. Cain is a wonderful — and terrifying — storyteller." Dominick Dunne
"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....This could well be the thriller of the year." Booklist (Starred Review)
"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." Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review
"In addition to spiky characters, Cain has a crisp voice, a wicked sense of humor, and an imagination for all the horrors that can unfold in a locked basement....Bad news for Archie, but good news for readers who relish a profoundly creepy thriller. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"For all its heavy-handed touches, Heartsick is not a cookie-cutter book. In a genre that is rife with copycatting, Ms. Cain deserves some credit for having gotten a potentially interesting new series off the ground." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
About the Author
Chelsea Cain lived the first few years of her life on an Iowa commune, then grew up in Bellingham, Washington, where the infamous Green River Killer was "the boogeyman" of her youth. She started writing Heartsick to kill time while she was pregnant. Also the author of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, a parody based on the life of Nancy Drew, several nonfiction titles, and a weekly column in The Oregonian, Chelsea Cain lives in Portland with her husband and daughter.
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