Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: Heartsick

Chelsea Cain
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.

Rating: B+


  1. It's crazy when there's that question mark at the end of the summary. makes me want to find out the answer. I haven't read this book yet and from you're describing I might as well give it a try. Thanks for a very informative review Les.

  2. Well, this sounds like a real Thriller with a capital T, Leslie. A female serial killer? Now that makes it really interesting too. Thanks for the review.

  3. Was good huh? huh? Can't wait to see how well you like the rest. Excellent review. --Keishon

  4. I haven't read this book yet either, for a lot of the same reasons you stated. I bet you want to read something light and fluffy after reading that one, lol! That's how I felt after reading Sleeping with the Enemy by Vanessa Marlow. Whew! What a creepy book.

  5. I read this first one and haven't picked up the next one yet. I agree it was a great read, and yup, for me, too, it was all about Archie and Gretchen.

  6. Natalie ~ if you like thrillers and don't mind some graphic violence, you should try it.

    Hils ~ she's so evil and yet I can't help but want to read more of her.

    Keishon ~ Thanks! I'm going to wait a little before reading the next one. :)

    Jill - LOL I read two comtemporary romances after Heartsick. I need some space between thrillers. :)

  7. Lori ~ what a relationship they have! I'll definitely read the next one.

  8. My favorite suspense series at the moment - and I've read all three. I'm not sure how long Cain can realistically sustain this series (you'll see what I'm talking about the further you read on....), but for now I'm enjoying the ride.

  9. I've read a lot of good reviews for this book :D However, just wondering... is it very dark?

  10. Wendy ~ sorry, I don't know how I missed your comment. I'm already wondering how long Gretchen can stay so involved in Archie's life. Should be interesting.

    nath ~ I would say it's darker than what we usually read except for maybe some UF. Remember Sawney Beane from Thurman's Madhouse? Kind of like that but you could say this is, in a way, darker because it's not UF and serial killers do exist. It's a good story, well written.