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Heartsick    by Chelsea Cain order for
by Chelsea Cain
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Archie Sheridan has been recovering for a couple of years. After his near-death run-in with serial killer Gretchen Lowell, his physical and emotional scars have taken him off the job as a homicide detective in Portland, Oregon. The psychopathic Gretchen is locked up forever in prison, where she continues to disclose tantalizing and disturbing details about her many dozens of victims, and Archie - a man who cannot seem to break away from Gretchen's perverse powers over him - barely survives one-day-at-a-time on pain medicine while enduring a lonely, broken down existence in a depressing apartment.

Now, however, another predator is on the loose in Portland, young high school girls are being tortured and murdered, and the police department needs Archie back on-the-job as a member of a special task force. So, in the face of seemingly insurmountable personal obstacles, Archie returns to the hunt for what seems to be another serial killer. With newspaper reporter Susan Ward keeping tabs on the investigative team's progress (with Archie as her special focus), Archie soon finds himself in a complicated race against time to catch Portland's latest scourge, but he also finds himself confronted by increasing dangers and confused about his relationships with Susan and Gretchen.

Gritty, gruesome, and grotesque, Heartsick is a top-notch thriller in the tradition of Silence of the Lambs. Author Chelsea Cain pulls out all the stops and gives readers a blood-chilling portrait of a complicated and horrifying woman - Gretchen Lowell - and at the same time creates one of crime fiction's most poignant and haunted protagonists.

Information from the publisher suggests that Cain's first novel Heartsick is the beginning in a series of Gretchen Lowell - and - Archie Sheridan thrillers; however, readers may be so thoroughly terrified by Heartsick that they might be forever reluctant to spend any more time facing down such vile evil and surviving such powerful psychological suspense. At the very least, they will be reluctant to turn off the lights after reading Heartsick.

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