Heart series/Book 1
St. Martin's Press/September 2007 HC
St. Martin's Press/August 2008 mmp
From the author's website ~
Det. Archie Sheridan led the Beauty Killer Task Force for ten years, before the Beauty Killer (Gretchen Lowell) caught him, tortured him for ten days and then mysteriously let him go and turned herself in. Now it’s two years later and Archie, addicted to pain pills and still obsessed with Gretchen, is called off medical leave to hunt a second serial killer. Pink-haired girl journalist Susan Ward is assigned to profile Archie. She knows he’s hiding something. But what? (It’s bigger than a breadbox.)
I've had this sitting on the tbr pile for at least a year. It's one of those books that had a bunch of great reviews, lots of recommendations for it and the author but still it just sat there. My need to read it wasn't there yet. I know it had something to do with the content. It's not a romance so no HEA (Happily Ever After) in this one. I knew I would have to be in the right mood to read it. Well, that mood hit and I read Heartsick in less than a day.
Heartsick is one of those novels that for me, had elements that I wouldn't say I enjoyed but were vital to the overall story. The scenes of torture could have been more graphic but they were plenty graphic for me. I had no problem visualizing what Gretchen did to Archie. I found myself doing some "fast reading" through some of those scenes. I didn't dwell on the details. It was more of a read and move on - fast. I also noticed that my body was more tense when I read those scenes.
The way both Archie and Gretchen are written is very intense. When Cain gets into Archie's head and lets the reader see what he's going through now but what happened to him when he was Gretchen's prisoner, you really get to know him. The way he is able to function and keep going to see Gretchen every Sunday. That was hard to read, his time with Gretchen. They had a very twisted relationship. She kept twisting and manipulating and he couldn't get away, even after she was imprisoned.
While Archie is the main character it was certainly a group effort to catch the killer. Along with Archie's police task force team is Susan Ward. She is a writer for the Oregon Herald. Archie specifically asks for her to follow him as he works the case. She is to write a piece each week about Archie.
Susan was not at all what I was expecting. She is a gritty, ballsy, in-your-face woman. And just about as stubborn as a mule. She is intelligent and writes compelling stories about what it's like for Archie Sheridan to be investigating a serial killer again. I liked that she didn't back down from the more graphic aspects of the murder investigation. She was there in the field with Archie, helping when she could.
The characters are what made this such a memorable read for me. The plot was interesting but there were a few coincidences in the end that left it too neatly wrapped up. I did like Archie and Susan. The way they began as two professional and then became a team with a common goal was well developed. I found Gretchen eerily fascinating and I couldn't help but admire her calculating mind. I plan to continue reading about Archie and Gretchen and their twisted relationship in Sweetheart, book 2.
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