Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind---addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie’s a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she’s right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth---he can’t stay away.
When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.
Starred Review. In this outstanding thriller, the first in a new series, Cain (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth) puts a fresh spin on a scenario familiar to fans of Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs. When someone starts dumping the bodies of teenage girls around Portland, Ore., after soaking them in tubs of bleach, Archie Sheridan, a police detective addicted to pain killers, turns for help to Gretchen Lowell, an imprisoned serial killer who once tortured him (the big scar on his chest was shaped like a heart). Covering the crimes is reporter Susan Ward, a smart-alecky punk with pink hair and authority issues. The suspense builds as the narrative shifts between Sheridan's new case and his ordeal with Lowell, who in her own way is as memorable a villain as Hannibal Lecter. The damp Portland locale calls to mind the kind of Pacific Northwest darkness associated with Ted Bundy and Kurt Cobain. A vivid literary style lifts this well above the usual run of suspense novels. 200,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Phenomenal!!!!
Posted March 03, 2010 by Michelle , ILThis was a true page turner!!!! I had not heard of Chelsea Cain, but after reading her first book, I couldn't wait to read the second book! Her perspective is different than most and very intriguing. You cannot go wrong with this book!
2 . HeartSick
Posted September 21, 2007 by luv2read , ThrillersThis book was wonderful. Definitely hard to put down and am anxiously awaiting other books by Chelsea Cain. A must read!
September 04, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
Archie doesn't know for sure that it's her until that moment. There is a dull bloom of warmth in his spine, his vision blurs, and then he knows that Gretchen Lowell is the killer. He realizes that he has been drugged, but it is too late. He fumbles for his gun, but he is ham fisted and can only lift it awkwardly from his belt clip and hold it out as if it were a gift to her. She takes it and smiles, kissing him gently on the forehead. Then she reaches into his coat and takes the cell phone, turning it off and slipping it into her purse. He is almost paralyzed now, slumped in the leather chair in her home office. But his mind is a prison of clarity. She kneels down next to him, the way one might a child, and puts her lips so close to his that they are almost kissing. His pulse throbs in his throat. He can't swallow. She smells like lilacs.
"It's time to go, darling," she whispers. She stands then, and he is lifted from behind, elbows under his armpits. A man in front of him, red-faced and heavy, takes his legs, and he is carried into the garage and laid in the back of the green Voyager -- the vehicle Archie and his task force have spent months looking for -- and she crawls in on top of him. He realizes then that there is someone else in the van, that she wasn't the one behind him, but he doesn't have time to process this because she is straddling his torso, a knee pressing on either side of his waist. He cannot move his eyes anymore, so she narrates for his benefit.
"I'm rolling up your right sleeve. I'm tying off a vein." Then she holds up a hypodermic in his sight line. Medical training, he thinks. Eighteen percent of female serial killers are nurses. He is staring at the ceiling of the van. Grey metal. Stay awake, he thinks. Remember everything; every detail, it will be important. He thinks, if I live.
"I'm going to let you rest for a little while." She smiles and puts her flat, pretty face in front of his so he can see her, her blonde hair brushing his cheek, though he cannot feel it. "We'll have plenty of time for fun later."
He cannot respond, cannot even blink now. His breath comes in long, shallow rasps. He cannot see her push the needle in his arm, but he assumes she has, because then there is only darkness.
He wakes up on his back. He is still groggy and it takes him a moment to realize that the red-faced man is standing over him. In this moment, the very first moment of Archie's awareness, the man's head explodes. Archie jerks as the man's blood and brain matter blow forward, splattering Archie's face and chest, a vomit of warm, clotted fluid. He tries to move, but his hands and feet are bound to a table. He feels a piece of something hot slide down his face and slop onto the floor, and pulls hard against the bindings until his skin breaks, but he cannot budge them. He gags but his mouth is taped shut, forcing the bile back into his throat making him gag again. His eyes burn. Then he sees her, standing behind where the man's body has fallen, holding the gun she has just used to execute him.
"I wanted you to understand right away how committed I am to you," she says. "That you are the only one." And then she turns and walks away.
He is left then to contemplate what has just happened. He swallows hard, willing himself to remain calm, to look around. He is alone. The man is dead on the floor. Gretchen is gone. The driver of the van is gone. Archie's blood is pulsing so violently that it is the only sensation. Time passes. At first, he thinks he is in an operating room. It is a large space, walled with white ceramic subway tiles and well lit by florescent lights. He turns his head from side to side and sees several trays of instruments, medical looking machinery, a drain on the cement floor. He strains again at his binds and realizes that he is strapped to a gurney. Tubes are coming in and out of him: a catheter, an IV. There are no windows in the room and a faint earthy smell skirts the edge of his consciousness. Mildew. A basement.
He starts to think like a cop now. The others had been tortured for a couple of days before she dumped the bodies. That meant that he had time. Two days. Maybe three. They could find him in that amount of time. He had told Henry where he was going, that he had a psych consult about the newest body. He had wanted to see her, to get her advice. He was not prepared for this. But they would connect it. Henry would connect it. It would be the last place to which he could be traced. He had made a call to his wife on the way. That would be the last point of contact. How much time had passed since he had been taken?