I received an ARC of Evil at Heart through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program. And the timing of it was perfect for me because I had to read it for LibraryThing AND it fits in with the R.I.P. Reading Challenge I recently joined.
Evil at Heart is Book 3 in the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain, preceded by Heartsick and Sweetheart. Archie Sheridan is a police detective originally in charge of the task force put in place to catch The Beauty Killer, a serial killer on the loose in the Portland Area. In the first two books, we learned Gretchen (the Beauty Killer) had manipulated herself into the investigation and got close to Archie. In the end, she kidnapped and tortured him. In Book 2, she escapes from prison and continues to torment him, this time taking a newspaper journalist Susan Ward along for the ride. Now, in Book 3, we find Archie has checked himself into the mental ward of a hospital voluntarily. He could leave at any time but prefers to stay closed off from the "real" world and hopefully out of Gretchen's clutches. But dead bodies start appearing around Portland again in signature Gretchen Lowell sites. The city has gone crazy with their fascination with the Beauty Killer and the police don't know if she has resumed killing or some crazy Beauty Killer cult has taken up where she left off. Trying so hard not to be involved, Archie can no longer resist and checks himself out to try and figure out what is going on and journalist Susan Ward is again long for the ride.
I like this series more with each book. I started out with the first book thinking it was just sort of "meh". And I also wondered how long Cain could drag the cat and mouse game of Archie and Gretchen out. It's sort of like one of those television shows where two main characters like each other, but find for one reason or another they can't be together even though they long to be. And you keep watching to see just when the show's producers will finally let them get together and then you continue to watch to see the aftermath of the relationship. Well, in Book 3, Cain has found a way to have Gretchen be central, but then again not really. I won't say anything more because I don't want to spoil the story for you. In the end you really don't know just how much Gretchen was involved in the whole story or not. I really liked how Book 3 evolved and I liked that throughout the book Archie finally seemed to mentally be on the road to recovery.
I'll definitely read the next one to see where Cain takes the story from here. My only problem with the book is the gory-ness of it. There are some extremely graphic parts and I tend to read while I'm eating lunch and whatnot. Not a great book to read while you're eating. But if you can look past it or gore doesn't bother you then read this series! The back of the ARC touts, "Stephen King placed both Heartsick and Sweetheart on his 10 Best Books List of 2008, and praised Cain's "ferocious" writing." I have to say this book certainly evokes classic Stephen King with its torture theme and Cain doesn't hold back ata all. Anyone who has read Misery, this is definitely in the same category as that. I think Mr. King would approve of Book 3 just as much as he did of Book 1 and 2.
If you're interested in reading an excerpt from the book, please click here. You can even visit a website from the book called: iheartgretchenlowell.com
Here's a book trailer:
My reviews of Books 1 and 2:
Other Blog reviews of Evil at Heart:
Charlotte's Web of Books, The Novel Bookworm, The Genreview, Fatally Yours
Completed Book #1 for the R.I.P. IV Reading Challenge.