All posts tagged Chelsea Cain

Quick Thought Reviews: Graphic Novels (8)

A few more graphic novels read and this time, a new series of comics. I’m definitely sticking with this one and cannot wait until the full volume gets published together. I want it all! Read more…

2013-08-12-LetMeGo

Review: Let Me Go

Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain

Terrifying female serial killer? Check. Severely damaged Detective with a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome? Check. A masked ball? Check. Twisted birthday presents? Check. Halloween? Check.

Welcome to a first-class ticket into the mind of Chelsea Cain, and the latest novel in her Heartsick series, Let Me Go. Read more…

Review: Kill You Twice

Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain

Chelsea Cain is a sick and twisted lady, and for those reader’s that have been reading the Heartsick series since the beginning, we love her for it. Kill You Twice is the fifth novel of the series, and although there are some similar storyline patterns that can be found throughout the series, this novel illustrates that there may be a few surprises in the future. Read more…

Notable Authors 1: Chelsea Cain

In 2007, I was wandering my local bookstore, as I was usually found doing to kill time in the mall. There was a new release on the wall: Heartsick by Chelsea Cain. I like a good mystery and thriller; my bookshelves had been filled with Tami Hoag novels and Sandra Brown, to name only a couple. So I picked it up and opened it to the inside flap: the synopsis advertised a story about a Detective working on a task force, only to end up being caught by the serial killer and tortured by her for ten days. I didn’t continue reading the synopsis, but put the book back on the shelf. I had read, once before, a book that had pushed me past my limit; don’t get me wrong, I love a good murder mystery, but I can only handle certain things. Make it too gruesome or Saw-ish, and my heeby-jeeby metre will go into overload and the nightmares will kick in! I’m not a big fan of nightmares so I tend to avoid books that would most likely cause them.

So I put the book back on the shelves, but every time I was in Coles I would find myself straying towards that novel. I would pick it up, flip through the pages quickly without seeing any words, gaze at the cover, and put it back on the shelf. I did this for a year! The author had published another book titled Sweetheart in 2008, before I finally caved and picked up the book in the bargain bin. Yes there was torture, yes there were some gruesome points to the book, but I flew through this novel, reading it over a two-day period. I immediately drove to Coles, after finishing Heartsick, to pick up the second novel, Sweetheart, only to finish that one in six hours. I then had to wait for the third novel to be released.

Let me tell you, quickly, about Chelsea Cain. She had previously published novels but hadn’t really come out in the business yet. She grew up in the area and during the time the Green River Killer was on his spree and she started writing Heartsick when she was pregnant. The books themselves, to which there are three so far, Heartsick; Sweetheart; and Evil at Heart are amazing studies, not only into the world of serial killers, but into the ever elusive Stockholm Syndrome as well. The writing may not be on par with writers of literary standing, but her characters and her story are to be noted.

Character-wise, two should be mentioned: Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell. Archie Sheridan is the detective mentioned in the first synopsis. After ten years of searching for the serial killer on a task force that he led, he was captured by said killer and tortured for ten days. Now this is not a spoiler, because it is also in the inside flap, but unlike her other victims, she saves Archie, letting him go back to his job and his family. Cain creates the quintessential tortured soul in Archie and she accurately and amazingly portrays the Stockholm Syndrome through his actions in the three novels. Gretchen Lowell is the serial killer and man is she a great one. She is beautiful, intelligent, and manipulative. She sends more shivers up your spine than Hannibal Lecter did, and he ate people. I wish I could say more about these two characters, but I would be giving away the storylines of her three books.

I have read Heartsick, Sweetheart and Evil at Heart twice now, the second time just recently, and I love them even more than the first time. To give you more of an idea of what each novel contained, I will include my reviews that I wrote upon reading them for the first time.

Heartsick

I had been staring at this book on the shelves of my local bookstore since it had come out. Needless to say I was nervous about picking up a book like this (I had previously read some pretty gruesome books in the past, labeled Novels of Terror). I finally jumped the gun and had to pick it up right away.

This was an amazing book. It was disturbing and gruesome but not to the point that the author was simply trying to scare the shit out of you. Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful and psychotic female serial killer is the most intriguing serial killer character that I have ever read. Archie Sheridan, as the damaged and disturbed Detective is simply trying to do his job while dealing with his twisted relationship with the jailed serial killer. This novel is a great portrayal of the Stockholm Syndrome. Chelsea Cain did an amazing job at portraying what happens in hostage/torture situations and one couldn’t help but shiver during the descriptions of what Gretchen Lowell did to her ‘darling’ Archie Sheridan.

It is not really all neatly tied up in the end; yes, the ‘main’ story of the new serial killer is all resolved but the relationship with Archie and Gretchen is sort of left hanging, although he does walk away from her. I’m glad that I waited this long to pick this novel up to read because now I can simply go as soon as possible to get the second one which is already on the shelves.

Sweetheart

After reading Heartsick I immediately had to drive out and get Sweetheart. I read this book within a day of starting it. I absolutely loved it!

It picks up basically right where Heartsick leaves off and all those issues not resolved in the first novel are resolved in this. The Molly Palmer issue is resolved, revealing some twisted political shadiness. But the greatest part of this book is the relationship between Gretchen and Archie.

The true nature of their relationship is revealed and it is an absolutely twisted and yet understandable scenario. Archie is doing his best to end his suffering; his friends and family are doing their best to resolve his issues and of course Gretchen is doing her best to make people suffer. She is definitely the Queen of Evil and Archie is definitely the suffering, addicted victim of guilt and the Stockholm Syndrome.

I wouldn’t care if Chelsea Cain didn’t write anything else in her novels except for the relationship between Gretchen and Archie. The story lines with Susan Ward are not the main interest in the novel and I usually find myself wishing that those parts of the story were shorter so I could breeze through them faster. That’s not to say that they are parts of the books that lessen the quality of the novels, because they don’t.

The book is an admirable sequel to Heartsick and I cannot wait until September for the third novel. I have found a new favourite author in Chelsea Cain and characters in Gretchen Lowell and Archie Sheridan.

Evil at Heart

I can still remember walking past the bookshelf for a year after the release of Chelsea Cain’s, Heartsick. Always passing it by because I didn’t think that I would be able to read a novel like hers. I love a good suspense/thriller like anybody else, but there are certain levels of violence that I cannot stomach. I have read novels that have pushed me past my comfort levels for sure. Finally, I caved and picked up Heartsick. I read it in two days and immediately went out to pick up her second novel of the series, which is Sweetheart, and read it in 6 hours. Since finishing that novel, I had been waiting, impatiently, for Evil at Heart.

Archie, Susan, Henry and Gretchen are back and as great as the previous novels. From the very first chapter, the reader is thrown into a CSI-like episode (did I mention that I love CSI!?) and from then on, there is a constant stream of suspense, thrills, and surprises. Archie Sheridan is still the same tortured soul that one cannot help but love and feel sorry for. Susan is still the crazy, creative reporter/journalist from the previous works, although I would have to say that she is a little more human in this novel. I found myself more interested when she was around because she has developed into a more rounded character as the stories have progressed. That is not to say that none of the other characters haven’t changed or developed. Archie may still be the tortured soul that he was in the first novel, but he has (without spoiling any part of the story line) grown and healed in his own way.

Gretchen Lowell. What can be said about Gretchen, that hasn’t already been said. She is (I would say) the best, fictional serial killer of this generation of novelists and readers. Her creep-factor sometimes far surpasses that of Hannibal Lecter’s, and he ate people. She is cold, heartless, yet warm, loving, in her way, and strangely seductive. Every time she is on the page, she steals the show, unless it is both Archie and Gretchen, than together they give great performances. And one cannot help but shiver and shudder whenever she addresses Archie as ‘darling.’

Story line wise, Evil at Heart is not overly focused on the relationship between Gretchen and Archie. Other, more serious issues take the forefront. So if you are looking for a third novel that will greatly develop that aspect of the overall story, you are not going to get it. That is not to say that this takes away from the characters and the works overall. What is revealed about Archie and Gretchen is just as chilling and beautifully distributed throughout the novel, where it is appropriate. The other issues that take the forefront are probably more disturbing and chilling than what the previous two novels had produced. There were definitely parts of the work where I was having trouble stomaching, but once again, it is not so disgusting that it takes away from the enjoyment of reading the novel. Just be forewarned, there are some gruesome parts!

The only complaint, and I am being completely honest here, is that these novels are not longer. A book, or series of books, that totally engrosses one is a rare occurrence. Some books are simply fast, fluff reads; others are long works in progress when it comes to reading. Then, every once in a while, one will find an author that has the ability to grab the attention of the reader and hold it until the novel is finished; not because one wants to FINALLY finish the work, but because they simply do not want to put it down, for fear of missing a single second. I do not want to miss a single second of Archie, Gretchen and Susan’s story. It is getting better and better (if that is possible) as more of their stories are published. I cannot wait for the next installment by Cain and I hope that she continues on with the absolute gem that she has created.

Well, I think I’ve made it clear enough that I think Chelsea Cain and her ‘Heart’ series is an absolute stellar find. Everybody that I have lent the books to have come back asking for more. If that is not enough to get you to go out and read these novels, than simply take a chance like I did. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.