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Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell, #1) by Chelsea…

Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell, #1) (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Chelsea Cain

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2,0421384,799 (3.8)106
Title:Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell, #1)
Authors:Chelsea Cain
Info:Minotaur Books (2007), Kindle Edition
Collections:Your library
Tags:kindle, women-of-mystery-book-club-reads

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Heartsick by Chelsea Cain (2007)

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English (135)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (140)
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
I picked this novel for a completely random reason - I don't read a lot of crime fiction - but actually really enjoyed the characters, the dark humour, and the fast-paced plot. The ending was slightly too pat - 'You have got to be kidding', in the words of the detective - but there probably also needed to be that connection? I'm still not sure, but I've already ordered the next book in the series!

Portland homicide detective Archie Sheridan is called back to work after an extended medical leave. Tortured and almost killed by the serial killer he was investigating, who turned out to be a beautiful (natch) psychopath called Gretchen Lowell, Sheridan is a ruined man, separated from his family and whacked out on painkillers. When three schoolgirls from local schools are abducted and murdered, Sheridan is keen to get back to work - and try to exorcise Gretchen's powerful hold over him. A reporter, pink-haired punky Susan Ward, is hired to follow Sheridan and document his first big case - but is she getting too close, and who is using who?

Archie and Susan are great characters - for a detective with substance abuse issues and a roving reporter with pink hair - but Gretchen is trying far too hard to be a femme fatale Hannibal Lecter. The Portland setting is suitably atmospheric, and the identity of the second serial killer kept me guessing (although I'm happier with character-driven detective series to just wait and see). I have a feeling this series may grow old quickly, but I'm willing to find out for myself. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Nov 22, 2018 |
This seemed like another decent crime read until the last 3/4 of the book- it took a crazy twist I never would have imagined! I love that there is a female killer as a larger character in this book/series. This is unlike any other crime series I have read and I already grabbed the second one off my book shelf to dive into. I would recommended Chelsea Cain to every crime reader and I put her in my top 5 favorite authors! ( )
  Chelz286 | Aug 26, 2018 |
Ha! if the following description makes any sense to you: "Hannigram with a genderswapped Hannibal Lecter" then I recommend this book.

It says on the cover something about the serial killer in it being like, Hannibal Lecter. Okay. Could be interesting, right? But there are a lot of those around. It still might be dull shit. But then. the back cover is all like, the serial killer is a woman. Hmm.. More interesting. You don't see that often. I could probably read it for some vicarious giggles. And then! It gets all *sexually tense* between her and the male detective that had been tracking her, and that she had intimately tortured for two weeks before turning herself in. And currently meets her every week in prison where they have *sexually tense* interrogations. Oh yeah! Gimme gimme gimme. Put it in my hands right now.

It doesn't get deliciously cray cray until the end when during one of their weekly interrogations the serial killer is all like, wanna hand job? and the detective is all like, OMG kinda.. I love it! These kind of books are best when they are crazier than a shithouse rat. The other mystery, or whatever, was BORING. But those are always BORING, amiright? They should just get like fan fiction and go directly to the good stuff (psychologically intense confrontations between tragically damaged people, with sex! lots of sex). The next book just gives in to the pulpy insanity and is much better for it. Not nearly as much sex as the stuff you find on ao3, but eh. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
I liked this book and will definitely continue with the series. ( )
  PamV | Mar 27, 2018 |
“There will be time to diet when people stopped killing one another.”

Normally I would avoid the murder/mystery thriller genre as I generally find the formula of an a damaged cop who sets out to try and catch a killer rather monotonous but I found this on a train and decided to give it a whirl. The truth is the fact that the cooper becomes entangled with a psychopathic serial killer who manipulates him from behind bars rather piqued my interest.

Archie Sheridan was the leader of a task force trying to catch a prolific mass murderer when he was captured, tortured and them mysteriously released by her. Now there is another killer on the loose and Archie returns from a prolonged sick leave to try and catch him. Despite what he has previously gone through Archie stills makes weekly trips to prison to visit his captor. Cain cleverly entwines the detective’s pursuit of the current murderer with flashbacks of his torture at the hands of Gretchen Lowell.

“Heartsick” is not a particularly original concept and in many ways plays homage to the likes of “The Silence of the Lambs” which similarly uses one psycho killer to catch another. However unlike Hannibal Lecter in SoL Gretchen’s bearing on Archie’s new case is relatively peripheral. Unlike Hannibal Gretchen is not so culturally aware. Whereas Hannibal uses things like art and literature to get at Clarice Darling, Gretchen uses brute force and drain cleaner to penetrate Archie's defences. Archie returns to her purely because Gretchen is beautiful, their relationship is in many ways sexual in nature.

“She’s a psychopath,” protests one of Archie’s female colleagues, unaffected by a woman’s wiles, when she catches him sneaking off to visit Gretchen. “Yeah,” he agrees, “but she’s my psychopath.”

That said and done the characters are well drawn and there are plenty of grisly surprises to compel the reader to want to keep turning the page as Cain cleverly weaves the two narratives together. . This is the first book in a series with the same protagonists and I will certainly be looking out for more of them. Very enjoyable. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Oct 16, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)

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'Hoe je ook denkt dat het zal worden,' fluistert ze, 'het zal nog erger zijn.'
For Marc Mohan, who loved me even after he read this book.
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Archie doesn't know for sure that it's her until that moment.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Portland detective Archie Sheridan, kidnapped and tortured for ten days by Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer he had hunted for ten years, is having trouble coming to grips with his life since Lowell released him and turned herself in, but he knows he must pull himself together when another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the street.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312368461, Hardcover)

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)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:50 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Addicted to painkillers and still bound to Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful serial killer who had abducted and tortured him before turning herself in, Portland detective Archie Sheridan is caught in another deadly duel with a murderer targeting teenage girls.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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