Heartsick

      Chelsea Cain
Heartsick

Amazon.com Review

Chelsea Cain steps into a crowded, blood-soaked genre with Heartsick, a riveting, character-driven novel about a damaged cop and his obsession with the serial killer who...let him live. Gretchen Lowell tortured Detective Archie Sheridan for ten days, then inexplicably let him go and turned herself in. Cain turns the (nearly played out) Starling/Lecter relationship on its ear: Sheridan must face down his would-be killer to help hunt down another. What sets this disturbing novel apart from the rest is its bruised, haunted heart in the form of Detective Sheridan, a bewildered survivor trying to catch a killer and save himself. --Daphne Durham

Questions for Chelsea Cain

Amazon.com: Gretchen Lowell haunts every page of Heartsick. Even when she actually appears in the jail scenes with Sheridan, she reveals nothing, and yet it's obvious she's anything but one-dimensional. What is her story?

Cain: I purposely didn't reveal Gretchen's past, beyond a few unreliable hints. I thought there was a really interesting tension in not knowing what had driven this woman to embrace violence so enthusiastically. The less we know about killers' motives, the scarier they are. Maybe that's why people spend so much time watching 24-hour news channels that cover the latest horrible domestic murder. We want to understand why people kill. Because if we can peg it on something, we can tell ourselves that they are different than us, that we aren't capable of that kind of brutality. Plus this is the launch of a series and I thought it would be fun for readers to get to learn more about Gretchen as the series continues. I just finished Sweetheart, and I promise there's a lot more Gretchen to come.

Amazon.com: As a first-time thriller author, you've got to be elated to see early reviews evoke the legendary Hannibal Lecter. Did you anticipate readers to make that connection, or are there other serial series (on paper or screen) that inspired the story of Gretchen and Sheridan?

Cain: I thought that the connection to Lecter was inevitable since Heartsick features a detective who visits a jailed serial killer. But I wasn't consciously inspired by Silence of the Lambs (or Red Dragon, which is the Harris book it more accurately echoes). I grew up in the Pacific Northwest when the Green River Killer was at large, and I was fascinated by the relationship between a cop who'd spent his career hunting a killer (as many of the cops on the Green River Task Force did) and the killer he ends up catching. I'd seen an episode of Larry King that featured two of the Green River Task Force cops and they had footage of one of the cops with Gary Ridgway (the Green River Killer) in jail and they were chatting like old friends. They were both trying to manipulate one another. The cop wanted Ridgway to tell him where more bodies were. Ridgway is a psychopath and wanted to feel in control. But on the surface, they seemed like buddies having a drink together at a bar. It was kind of disturbing. I wanted to explore that. Making the killer a woman was a way to make the relationship even more intense. Making her a very attractive woman upped the ante considerably.

Amazon.com: Reading Heartsick I was actually reminded of some of my favorite books by Stephen King. Like him, you have an uncanny ability to make your geographical setting feel like a character all its own. Do you think the story could have happened in any other place than Portland?

Cain: Heartsick Hawaii would definitely have been a different book. (Archie Sheridan would have been a surfer. Susan would have worked at a gift shop. And Gretchen would have been a deranged hula girl.) I live in Portland, so obviously that played into my decision to set the book here. All I had to do was look out the window. Which makes research a lot easier. But I also think that the Pacific Northwest makes a great setting for a thriller, and it's not a setting that's usually explored. Portland is so beautiful. But it’s also sort of eerie. The evergreens, the coast, the mountains--the scale is so huge, and the scenery is so magnificent. But every year hikers get lost and die, kids are killed by sneaker waves on the beach, and mountain climbers get crushed by avalanches. Beauty kills. Plus it has always seemed like the Northwest is teeming with serial killers. I blame the cloud cover. And the coffee.

Amazon.com: In a lot of ways, Heartsick is more about the killer than the killings, and it’s hard not to suspect that Gretchen killed only to get to Sheridan. That begs the question: is the chase always better than the catch? As a writer, is it more exciting for you to imagine the pursuit--with its tantalizing push-and-pull--than the endgame?

Cain: The most interesting aspect of the book to me is the relationship between Archie and Gretchen. Really, I wrote the whole book as an excuse to explore that. The endgame is satisfying because it's fun to see all the threads come together, but it's the relationship that keeps coming back to the computer day after day.

Amazon.com: Your characters--Susan Ward in particular--are raw, tautly wired, imperfect but still have this irresistible tenderness. It's their motives and experiences that really drive the story and ultimately elevate it way beyond what you might expect going into a serial killer tale. How did you resist falling into something more formulaic? Did you know what shape Susan and the others would take going in?

Cain: I knew I wanted flawed protagonists. I'm a sucker for a Byronic hero. Thrillers often feature such square-jawed hero types, and I wanted a story about people just barely hanging on. The psychological component is really interesting to me, and I liked that Susan's neuroses are, in their own ways, clues. In many ways, I embraced formula. I love formula--there’s a reason it works. And I decided early on that I wasn't going to avoid clichés for the sake of avoiding them. Some clichés are great. My goal was not to write a literary thriller, but to take all the stuff I loved from other books and TV shows and throw them all together and then try to put my own spin on it. Heartsick is a pulpy page-turner with, I hope, a little extra effort put into the writing and the characters. Basically, I just wrote the thriller that I wanted to read.

(photo credit: Kate Eshelby)


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this outstanding thriller, the first in a new series, Cain (_Confessions of a Teen Sleuth_) puts a fresh spin on a scenario familiar to fans of Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs. When someone starts dumping the bodies of teenage girls around Portland, Ore., after soaking them in tubs of bleach, Archie Sheridan, a police detective addicted to pain killers, turns for help to Gretchen Lowell, an imprisoned serial killer who once tortured him (the big scar on his chest was shaped like a heart). Covering the crimes is reporter Susan Ward, a smart-alecky punk with pink hair and authority issues. The suspense builds as the narrative shifts between Sheridan's new case and his ordeal with Lowell, who in her own way is as memorable a villain as Hannibal Lecter. The damp Portland locale calls to mind the kind of Pacific Northwest darkness associated with Ted Bundy and Kurt Cobain. A vivid literary style lifts this well above the usual run of suspense novels. 200,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Amazon.com Review

Chelsea Cain steps into a crowded, blood-soaked genre with Heartsick, a riveting, character-driven novel about a damaged cop and his obsession with the serial killer who...let him live. Gretchen Lowell tortured Detective Archie Sheridan for ten days, then inexplicably let him go and turned herself in. Cain turns the (nearly played out) Starling/Lecter relationship on its ear: Sheridan must face down his would-be killer to help hunt down another. What sets this disturbing novel apart from the rest is its bruised, haunted heart in the form of Detective Sheridan, a bewildered survivor trying to catch a killer and save himself. --Daphne Durham

Questions for Chelsea Cain

Amazon.com: Gretchen Lowell haunts every page of Heartsick. Even when she actually appears in the jail scenes with Sheridan, she reveals nothing, and yet it's obvious she's anything but one-dimensional. What is her story?

Cain: I purposely didn't reveal Gretchen's past, beyond a few unreliable hints. I thought there was a really interesting tension in not knowing what had driven this woman to embrace violence so enthusiastically. The less we know about killers' motives, the scarier they are. Maybe that's why people spend so much time watching 24-hour news channels that cover the latest horrible domestic murder. We want to understand why people kill. Because if we can peg it on something, we can tell ourselves that they are different than us, that we aren't capable of that kind of brutality. Plus this is the launch of a series and I thought it would be fun for readers to get to learn more about Gretchen as the series continues. I just finished Sweetheart, and I promise there's a lot more Gretchen to come.

Amazon.com: As a first-time thriller author, you've got to be elated to see early reviews evoke the legendary Hannibal Lecter. Did you anticipate readers to make that connection, or are there other serial series (on paper or screen) that inspired the story of Gretchen and Sheridan?

Cain: I thought that the connection to Lecter was inevitable since Heartsick features a detective who visits a jailed serial killer. But I wasn't consciously inspired by Silence of the Lambs (or Red Dragon, which is the Harris book it more accurately echoes). I grew up in the Pacific Northwest when the Green River Killer was at large, and I was fascinated by the relationship between a cop who'd spent his career hunting a killer (as many of the cops on the Green River Task Force did) and the killer he ends up catching. I'd seen an episode of Larry King that featured two of the Green River Task Force cops and they had footage of one of the cops with Gary Ridgway (the Green River Killer) in jail and they were chatting like old friends. They were both trying to manipulate one another. The cop wanted Ridgway to tell him where more bodies were. Ridgway is a psychopath and wanted to feel in control. But on the surface, they seemed like buddies having a drink together at a bar. It was kind of disturbing. I wanted to explore that. Making the killer a woman was a way to make the relationship even more intense. Making her a very attractive woman upped the ante considerably.

Amazon.com: Reading Heartsick I was actually reminded of some of my favorite books by Stephen King. Like him, you have an uncanny ability to make your geographical setting feel like a character all its own. Do you think the story could have happened in any other place than Portland?

Cain: Heartsick Hawaii would definitely have been a different book. (Archie Sheridan would have been a surfer. Susan would have worked at a gift shop. And Gretchen would have been a deranged hula girl.) I live in Portland, so obviously that played into my decision to set the book here. All I had to do was look out the window. Which makes research a lot easier. But I also think that the Pacific Northwest makes a great setting for a thriller, and it's not a setting that's usually explored. Portland is so beautiful. But it’s also sort of eerie. The evergreens, the coast, the mountains--the scale is so huge, and the scenery is so magnificent. But every year hikers get lost and die, kids are killed by sneaker waves on the beach, and mountain climbers get crushed by avalanches. Beauty kills. Plus it has always seemed like the Northwest is teeming with serial killers. I blame the cloud cover. And the coffee.

Amazon.com: In a lot of ways, Heartsick is more about the killer than the killings, and it’s hard not to suspect that Gretchen killed only to get to Sheridan. That begs the question: is the chase always better than the catch? As a writer, is it more exciting for you to imagine the pursuit--with its tantalizing push-and-pull--than the endgame?

Cain: The most interesting aspect of the book to me is the relationship between Archie and Gretchen. Really, I wrote the whole book as an excuse to explore that. The endgame is satisfying because it's fun to see all the threads come together, but it's the relationship that keeps coming back to the computer day after day.

Amazon.com: Your characters--Susan Ward in particular--are raw, tautly wired, imperfect but still have this irresistible tenderness. It's their motives and experiences that really drive the story and ultimately elevate it way beyond what you might expect going into a serial killer tale. How did you resist falling into something more formulaic? Did you know what shape Susan and the others would take going in?

Cain: I knew I wanted flawed protagonists. I'm a sucker for a Byronic hero. Thrillers often feature such square-jawed hero types, and I wanted a story about people just barely hanging on. The psychological component is really interesting to me, and I liked that Susan's neuroses are, in their own ways, clues. In many ways, I embraced formula. I love formula--there’s a reason it works. And I decided early on that I wasn't going to avoid clichés for the sake of avoiding them. Some clichés are great. My goal was not to write a literary thriller, but to take all the stuff I loved from other books and TV shows and throw them all together and then try to put my own spin on it. Heartsick is a pulpy page-turner with, I hope, a little extra effort put into the writing and the characters. Basically, I just wrote the thriller that I wanted to read.

(photo credit: Kate Eshelby)


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this outstanding thriller, the first in a new series, Cain (_Confessions of a Teen Sleuth_) puts a fresh spin on a scenario familiar to fans of Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs. When someone starts dumping the bodies of teenage girls around Portland, Ore., after soaking them in tubs of bleach, Archie Sheridan, a police detective addicted to pain killers, turns for help to Gretchen Lowell, an imprisoned serial killer who once tortured him (the big scar on his chest was shaped like a heart). Covering the crimes is reporter Susan Ward, a smart-alecky punk with pink hair and authority issues. The suspense builds as the narrative shifts between Sheridan's new case and his ordeal with Lowell, who in her own way is as memorable a villain as Hannibal Lecter. The damp Portland locale calls to mind the kind of Pacific Northwest darkness associated with Ted Bundy and Kurt Cobain. A vivid literary style lifts this well above the usual run of suspense novels. 200,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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    Kill You Twice

      Chelsea Cain
Kill You Twice

Nothing makes Portland detective Archie Sheridan happier than knowing that Gretchen Lowell—the serial killer whose stunning beauty is belied by the gruesome murders she's committed—is locked away in a psych ward. Archie can finally heal from the near-fatal physical and emotional wounds she's inflicted on him and start moving on with his life.

To this end, Archie throws himself into the latest case to come across his desk: A cyclist has discovered a corpse in Mount Tabor Park on the eastern side of Portland. The man was gagged, skinned, and found hanging by his wrists from a tree. It's the work of a killer bold and clever enough to torture his victim for hours on a sunny summer morning in a big public park and yet leave no trace.

And then Archie gets a message he can't ignore—Gretchen claims to have inside knowledge about this grisly murder. Archie finally agrees to visit Gretchen, because he can't risk losing his only lead in the case. At least, that's what he tells himself . . . but the ties between Archie and Gretchen have always been stronger, deeper, and more complex than he's willing to admit, even to himself. What game is she playing this time? And even more frightening, what long-hidden secrets from Gretchen's past have been dredged up that someone would kill to protect?

At once terrifying and magnetic, "Beauty Killer" Gretchen Lowell returns with a vengeance in Kill You Twice, Chelsea Cain's latest razor-sharp psychological thriller.

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    The Night Season

      Chelsea Cain
The Night Season

With the Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell locked away behind bars once again, Archie Sheridan—a Portland police detective and nearly one of her victims—can finally rest a little easier. Meanwhile, the rest of the city of Portland is in crisis. Heavy rains have flooded the Willamette River, and several people have drowned in the quickly rising waters. Or at least that's what they thought until the medical examiner discovers that the latest victim didn't drown: She was poisoned before she went into the water. Soon after, three of those drownings are also proven to be murders. Portland has a new serial killer on its hands, and Archie and his task force have a new case.

Reporter Susan Ward is chasing this story of a new serial killer with gusto, but she's also got another lead to follow for an entirely separate mystery: The flooding has unearthed a skeleton, a man who might have died more than sixty years ago, the last time Portland flooded this badly, when the water washed away an entire neighborhood and killed at least fifteen people.

With Archie following the bizarre trail of evidence and evil deeds to catch a killer and possibly regain his life, and Susan Ward close behind, Chelsea Cain—one of today's most talented suspense writers—launches the next installment of her bestselling series with an electric thriller.

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    Let Me Go

      Chelsea Cain
Let Me Go

Beautiful killer Gretchen Lowell tightens her grip on Detective Archie Sheridan in Let Me Go, New York Times bestseller Chelsea Cain’s newest nail-biter.

Detective Archie Sheridan is about to receive a birthday present from the last person he ever wants to see again: Gretchen Lowell.

The investigation into Jack Reynolds's drug enterprise is heating up and has Archie heading off to attend a masked Halloween party on Jack Reynolds's island, where Susan is a reluctant guest. But the next morning one of the guests is found murdered, and Archie quickly realizes that nothing is what it seems. Only one thing is clear: Gretchen is back, and she's been closer than anyone thinks. On Halloween Eve, with time running out, Archie will have to risk everything, and choose wisely whom to trust, if he and his loved ones are going to live through the night.

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    One Kick

      Chelsea Cain
One Kick

From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers: The first in a nail-biting new series featuring Kick Lannigan, a young woman whose complicated past has given her a very special skill set.

Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test.

Trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of the average young girl after her release. So, in lieu of therapy, she mastered martial arts, boxing, and knife throwing; learned how to escape from the trunk of a car, jimmy a pair of handcuffs, and walk without making a sound—all before she was thirteen.

Kick has trained herself to be safe. But then two children go missing in three weeks, and an enigmatic and wealthy former weapons dealer approaches her with a proposition. John Bishop uses his fortune and contacts to track down missing children. Not only is he convinced Kick can help recover the two children—he won’t take no for an answer.

With lives hanging in the balance, Kick is set to be the crusader she has always imagined herself. Little does she know that the answers she and Bishop seek are hidden in one of the few places she doesn’t want to navigate—the dark corners of her own mind.

A heart-stopping, entertaining thrill ride, One Kick announces the arrival of a blistering new series by a stunning talent in the thriller realm.

**

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    Sweetheart

      Chelsea Cain
Sweetheart

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In Cain's superb follow-up to Heartsick, damaged detective Archie Sheridan is back home in Portland, Ore., trying to resume a normal life. Archie's ties to serial killer Gretchen Lowell still run deep, even if he's stopped their weekly visits in prison. Meanwhile, reporter Susan Ward is finishing an article accusing a beloved U.S. senator of seducing his children's 14-year-old babysitter a decade earlier. When three bodies are discovered in a local park—where Archie's team found Gretchen's first victim 12 years earlier—Archie worries another serial killer is at large. After the senator's unexpected death, Susan discovers links between the sex scandal and the bodies in the park. When Gretchen escapes from prison, Archie knows he's the only one who can stop her from killing. In Cain's capable hands, Gretchen is both a monster and the only person who truly understands Archie's pain. With its brisk pacing, carefully metered violence and tortured hero, Cain's sophomore effort will leave readers desperate for more. 200,000 first printing. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From

Starred Review It was apparent at the end of Cain’s masterful Heartsick (2007) that we hadn’t heard the last from either Gretchen Lowell, the most mesmerizing serial killer since a fellow named Hannibal, or Archie Sheridan, the Portland cop whom Gretchen tortured and then freed, locking the two of them into a creepy symbiotic relationship somewhere between Romeo and Juliet and Holmes and Moriarity. Cain picks up the story with Sheridan trying to overcome his addictions to pain pills and Gretchen, respectively, and not doing very well with either. A new case—bodies found in a Portland park, near where Gretchen’s first victim was discovered—provides distraction as well as bringing punky, turquoise-haired reporter Susan Ward back into his life, but neither is enough to get Gretchen out of his mind. Then she escapes from prison, determined to draw Archie away from his family, away from his job, and into her arms for a deadly pas de deux. There is a little less gut-wrenching tension this time than there was in Heartsick—and less gut-wrenching gore, too—but there is considerably more psychological complexity, as the knot binding Archie to Gretchen tightens further. The psychosexual interplay between the two is endlessly fascinating and, amazingly, thoroughly believable. In addition, Cain gives more space to her supporting cast—especially reporter Ward, who seems ready for a starring role herself. It’s hard to say how long Cain can play out this lovers’ duel between Archie and Gretchen before they tumble into their own Reichenbach Falls, but it’s a sure thing we won’t be leaving our seats before the final curtain. --Bill Ott

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    One Kick: A Novel

      Chelsea Cain
One Kick: A Novel

From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers: The first in a nail-biting new series featuring Kick Lannigan, a young woman whose complicated past has given her a very special skill set.

Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test.

Trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of the average young girl after her release. So, in lieu of therapy, she mastered martial arts, boxing, and knife throwing; learned how to escape from the trunk of a car, jimmy a pair of handcuffs, and walk without making a sound—all before she was thirteen.

Kick has trained herself to be safe. But then two children go missing in three weeks, and an enigmatic and wealthy former weapons dealer approaches her with a proposition. John Bishop uses his fortune and contacts to track down missing children. Not only is he convinced Kick can help recover the two children—he won’t take no for an answer.

With lives hanging in the balance, Kick is set to be the crusader she has always imagined herself. Little does she know that the answers she and Bishop seek are hidden in one of the few places she doesn’t want to navigate—the dark corners of her own mind.

A heart-stopping, entertaining thrill ride, One Kick announces the arrival of a blistering new series by a stunning talent in the thriller realm.

**

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    Evil at Heart

      Chelsea Cain
Evil at Heart

Chelsea Cain’s novels featuring Portland detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell have captivated fans through two nail-biting entries, Heartsick and Sweetheart, both of them multiweek bestsellers in The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly.

Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she’s more of a cause célèbre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers weekly and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, Portland Herald reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre kind of fan club, which celebrates the number of days she’s been free.

Archie Sheridan hunted her for a decade, and after his last ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong, remains hospitalized months later. When they last spoke, they entered a détente of sorts---Archie agreed not to kill himself if she agreed not to kill anyone else. But when a new body is found accompanied by Gretchen’s trademark heart, all bets are off and Archie is forced back into action. Has the Beauty Killer returned to her gruesome ways, or has the cult surrounding her created a whole new evil?

Chelsea Cain continues to deliver heart-stopping thrills and chills in the latest entry in this dynamic bestselling series.

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