Tuesday, June 29, 2010

89. Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

I went to the library a few weeks ago with a list in hand. I was on a mission. As I walked down the C aisle of the Fiction section, looking for Capote  and Chandler, Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain caught my eye and I stopped. I read Cain's first two novels, Heartsick and Sweetheart, a couple of years ago and really enjoyed them.

Fun fact: I noticed that Nathan Fillion's character was reading one of them on an episode of Castle, although I can't remember which one. Probably Sweetheart.

So even though I had already somewhat decided that I had read enough mysteries this year, I decided to check it out. I was really excited to see there was another book in this series -- the second book was good in part because of a twist from the first one that must have been part of the plan all along. I really appreciate when authors have a grand plan, rather than continuing on for continuing on's sake or in an obvious bid for another payday. 

Please note: The review below does contain spoilers. Stop here if you want to read this series (and it's a good one) without prior knowledge. 

Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she's more of a cause celebre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers weekly and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, Portland Herald reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre kind of fan club, which celebrates the numbers of days she's been free. Archie Sheridan hunted her for a decade, and after his last ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong, remains hospitalized months later. When they last spoke, they entered a detente of sorts -- Archie agreed not to kill himself if she agreed not to kill anyone else. But when a new body is found accompanied by Gretchen's trademark heart, all bets are off and Archie is forced back into action. Has the Beauty Killer returned to her gruesome ways, or has the cult surrounding her created a whole new evil? 

Plot summary taken from the book jacket.

As far as mystery premises go, this is a pretty good one. Gretchen, a notorious female serial killer, posed as a psychologist consulting with the very task force working to track her down. She and Archie, the lead detective, had an affair. And then she kidnapped and tortured him because, well... that's what she does. Now the task force knows who they're hunting, but their lead detective is in bad shape. That's some good stuff, right?

This was a good installment in the series; it held up well against the the first two. Some effed up things happen, but it is a thriller about a serial killer, so that's to be expected and it wasn't too over the top. I did pick up on a clue, so I felt pretty good about that. I liked the ending because Cain could return with another book but if she doesn't, it's still a satisfying ending to series.

I read up on Cain on Wikipedia and was interested to learn that she's from Portland, Oregon. I love my Portland-raised authors! Apparently she described the Green River Killer as the "boogeyman" of her youth. I do have a bone to pick with her, though. I didn't realize that she is also the author of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth: A Parody. I read that book awhile ago -- I was intrigued because I have a lot of nostalgia for my days of reading Nancy Drew. This "parody" was more like a mockery, though. I thought it would be written kindly, but I was really off-put by the condescending tone. I do not recommend it even one little bit. I hope Cain sticks to thrillers in the future.  

No comments: