Heartsick by Chelsea Cain is a psychological thriller that was very well paced. I believe with any suspenseful novel it needs to move at a faster speed compared to other genres. The writer needs to be able to build tension throughout the story where you are compelled to continue reading page after page. Cain was able to capture my attention with her debut novel.
Two years ago, Detective Archie Sheridan is captured and tortured by Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and psychotic serial killer. After ten days of torment, she releases him and is arrested. Sheridan is on medical leave until another serial killer strikes the Portland area, targeting teenaged girls.
Susan Ward is a journalist and has scored the story of a lifetime. She is allowed all access to Detective Sheridan as he tracks the After School Strangler. Through her interactions with Archie, Susan uncovers the gory details behind his imprisonment and his twisted relationship with Gretchen. They also come closer to nabbing a new killer, which may put Susan’s life in jeopardy.
I like the idea of a female serial killer. Gretchen Lowell reminded me of Hannibal Lector. Both are extremely intelligent, show no remorse, and are insanely evil. They are engaging and dynamic characters and represent the darkness of humanity. Heartsick reminded of Silence of the Lambs especially the relationship between Gretchen and Archie paralleled the relationship of Hannibal and Clarice. Except Gretchen and Archie’s bond took it one step further with him being held her prisoner. They have this bizarre intimacy and flirtation with one another. It was a different twist.
As I mentioned, this novel was well paced. Cain did a good job with timing and keeping the action moving in an appropriate tempo. I also liked how she jumped back to scenes from Archie’s imprisonment showing his mental breakdown and acquiesce to Gretchen. It helped set up scenes regarding the newest killer and Archie’s motivation to come back to work.
It’s funny, my friends always ask if I get scared reading stories like this, and my answer is always no. Although this story is a fiction, events like this can and have happened in real life, so it doesn’t scare me. I get more scared by stories that involve the supernatural because theoretically it’s not real and unknown, and that to me is much scarier.
It’s been awhile since I picked up a good thriller. I forgot how much I liked this genre. I will have to add more books like this to my list.