Have you read Chelsea Cain yet? You should. Here’s why: she writes really good thrillers. I remember “Heartsick” Chelsea Cain’s debut suspense novel, getting a lot of hype. Of course, I jumped on the bandwagon and picked up the book and read it all in two sittings.
Chelsea Cain has a very engaging voice and narrative style. Lucky for her, she can write thrillers–well. The kind that can keep you up past your bedtime. I’ve read all three of the books in the series: Heart Sick, Sweetheart and last year’s Evil At Heart. Looking forward to “The Night Season” in March 2011. From the synopsis, it sounds like the author might be shifting direction a bit. I’m hoping it’s less Gretchen and more Archie. We’ll see.
While there are crimes committed in the books, the focus of the series is mainly between victim and captor. The basic premise of the series went like this: Detective Archie Sheridan (principal character) and his task force were looking for a brutal killer who was crossing state lines. High profile case. The investigation was going nowhere fast with the little clues they had to sift through. Then a psychologist volunteers to help Archie and his task force find the killer. Turns out the psychologist was the suspect they were looking for all along.
Archie gets kidnapped and tortured by the killer. A female serial killer the media dubs “The Beauty Killer.” A woman named Gretchen Lowell. A woman! A significant factor that the best FBI profiler missed that almost cost a lead detective his life. During Archie’s captivity, he endured all kinds of horrific things. Most gruesome, carving out the words “heart sick” on his chest and removing his spleen. But when Archie almost dies, she saves his life and turns herself in. No explanation given.
The first book investigates a rape/murder case while at the same time rehashing Archie’s torture in flashbacks in “Heart Sick.” Archie also visits Gretchen in prison which takes a toll on his family and strains his relationship with his colleagues. Gretchen will only give Archie her confessions. In “Sweetheart” well, the author delves deeper into the dynamics of the victim/captor relationship, giving readers the extra puzzle pieces necessary to help put the complete picture together if you will. In “Evil At Heart”, the author decided to explore the exploitative nature of the media and the fascination/obsession with dangerous criminals and what happens when you have copycats. Fascinating suspense novels.
What draws me to this series is the principal characters. They are all flawed. Starting with Archie, he returns to work after his recovery in Heartsick, addicted to pain killers that he uses to help him keep up appearances. His feelings for The Beauty Killer is a mix of lust/love/hate. Then there’s Susan Ward, a journalist who wants to be taken seriously. She shadowed Archie on his first case when he returns to work. She’s effed up herself, too. Last is Gretchen Lowell, aka “The Beauty Killer” so named because of her beauty that she uses to lure men to do her bidding before she kills them. Archie is her only living survivor.
“The Night Season” is due out March 11, 2010 in hardcover. The first three books in the series should be available in paperback and maybe even digital formats. This series is best read in order because of the background and history between all the principal characters. Especially the last book. It doesn’t stand alone well at all.
If you enjoy thrillers and don’t mind the graphic violence, I think you’ll enjoy these. There’s some dark humor in here to lighten things up a bit. I like that we get to follow Susan Ward at her news desk. Through her we see how the police and the media work together to help solve crimes. These books are more that just thrillers. They are quick reads and Chelsea Cain is an awesome writer if I do say so myself.
P.S. I don’t get the new covers.