Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

Genre: Crime Thriller
Series: #2 in the Gretchen Lowell – Archie Sheridan series
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 325
Clear Off Your Shelves
Source: purchased new

This is the sequel to Heartsick which I loved for being seriously twisted but Oh so good. This one falls in that same category.

Gretchen Lowell is a beautiful, sadistic serial killer. Archie Sheridan is the detective who finally caught her, but not before she held him captive for 10 days and tortured him. She’s in prison and he’s still in torture. His wounds have healed, but he’s far from healthy. He’s still addicted to both painkillers and to Gretchen. While battling his emotional and physical issues, he’s also involved in a new investigation when a body is found in Forest Park. Susan Ward is a reporter for the local newspaper. She’s a bit of a rebel (with turquoise hair this time) who is about to break the story of her life. A well known and loved local politician is about to have his past blow huge holes in his reputation. Susan and Archie got to know each other during a previous investigation. They find themselves in a mutually beneficial situation again when Susan needs help with a story and Archie needs publicity for an investigation. But then things are all spectacularly sidetracked when Gretchen escapes from prison and comes looking for Archie.

The multiple stories in this book are all interesting on their own, but you just know that they’re going to intertwine in ways that will put Archie, Susan and their families and friends in danger. The gruesome factor is pretty high as it was in Heartsick, so this series is not for the nightmare prone. The chapters are pretty short and the pace is fast so it’s a book that you can lose yourself in easily. I went to bed last night with 125 pages to go and finished it before I went to sleep.

Archie is seriously messed up. I want to root for him at the same time I want him to get some help before he damages his family any further. Susan is likeable and incredibly irritating at the same time. The good guys are not always easy to support in this series, but Gretchen is such pure evil personified that you want them to succeed.

I enjoy reading books set in Portland. It’s fun to read about familiar locations. I like that Chelsea Cain manages to include some Portland insider type stuff without being too excluding to readers who aren’t from the area. The storyline that is clearly taken from a couple of well-publicized local political downfalls from recent years was fun to see.

I’m going to be looking for the third book in the series very soon.

Rating 4/5