Saturday, June 06, 2009

HeartSick by Chelsea Cain

HeartSick by Chelsea CainIt took me just over four months to reach the end of this fascinating mystery suspense novel. First, one must note that I have been “reading” the unabridged audio CDs rather than a text edition. Second, I only listen to books on CD when I'm alone in the car. When there's someone else in the car (like my husband), I let him drive and I stick my nose in whatever book I'm reading at the time. Besides, he wouldn't enjoy listening to my books. On Friday, I had to drive myself to the office in town and that gave me the opportunity to listen to the ninth and last disk.

Heartsick wraps one murder investigation around another as Detective Archie Sheridan pulls together a task force to find out who is kidnapping teenage girls, murdering them, and dumping their bleach-soaked bodies around the Portland area. It's been two years since serial killer Gretchen Lowell kidnapped Archie, tortured him, and then surprisingly released him and turned herself in. Archie bears both physical and emotional scars, abusing painkillers and other prescription drugs and barely making it from day to day. But now there's a new serial killer and Archie must pull himself together if there's any hope of catching him and ending the string of murders.

Many reviewers have drawn a comparison between HeartSick and Silence of the Lambs, which I can't really address since I never read the books about Hannibal Lecter, nor saw the movies. All I know about them is from the previews I saw on television. I believe, however, that one way in which the two are similar is in the ongoing relationship between Lowell and Sheridan as he visits her prison weekly. Lowell has promised to disclose the locations where she buried other victims—some 200 or so if she is to be believed. She uses this promise as a means of manipulating Archie—continuing her sadistic torture even though she is securely incarcerated. Archie feels, however, that he's the only one who will get this information from her and she might even be able to give him some insight into the mind of the newest serial killer he's tracking.

In addition to the law enforcement professionals and psychologists on the task force, a young reporter, Susan Ward, has been assigned to follow Archie around and profile the processes that he goes through to track down and apprehend this murderer. The current investigation is intermingled with flashbacks to Archie's own torture and suffering, tying the two cases together. Relationships are also intertwined.

This was a fascinating suspense novel, and I'm particularly glad to discover that there is a sequel available today and a third in the series will be released in September. I'm putting Sweetheart and Evil at Heart on my wishlist.

Heartsick is available in a Kindle edition, hardcover, mass market paperback, and audio download as well as the CD edition I read.

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