Chelsea Cains debut Heartsick
created quite a stir, with its heady mix of familiar serial killer motifs and some striking innovations (notably the fact that her utterly ruthless murderer was a woman: the beautiful Gretchen Lowell). Cain is very much a member of the cadre of female crime writers who match their male counterparts in extreme, unsparing violence: in other words (as her new book, Sweetheart
comprehensively proves), this is a young American writer in the bloody tradition of Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter and theres nothing wrong with that.
In fact, Sweetheart is not so much a sequel to Heartsick as a direct continuation of the events of that novel. Some weeks after the events of the first book, Cains battered cop protagonist Archie is at the site of the new murder scene at Forest Park. Simultaneously, Susan Ward is reporting on a political case involving statutory rape and making herself very unpopular with her paper -- notably because the senator involved is an intimate of the newspapers owners. But then a colleague of Susans is killed in what appears to be a car accident, and the lethal Gretchen Lowell, the seductive serial killer of Heartsick, is raped by a guard at the prison where she is incarcerated. He subsequently kills himself, and while Gretchen is being transferred to another prison, she persuades an attendant to commit murder in order to help her escape. And Archie, to his dismay, soon becomes the recipient of the heart of the female prison guard killed in escape.
As all of the above suggests, the plotting here is even more delirious than in the first book -- and this synopsis only hints at the truly bizarre events that Chelsea Cain orchestrates. Even though a moment's consideration might make the narrative seem absurd (and there is some dodgy science incorporated into the plotting), the outrageous panache with which Cain dispatches her material sweeps all reservations aside. For those who care about such things, this is slightly less grisly than its predecessor, but its just as entertaining a ride. --Barry Forshaw
'Another classy serial killer thriller...An edgy, compelling nail-biter that more than matches Cain's first book Heartsick. Bloodcurdlingly good!' -- Now magazine
'Cain is good at weaving in multiple plots and leads while building real suspense.'
-- Daily Mirror
'Charismatic, gorgeous, sadistic serial killer Gretchen Lowell taunts detective Archie Sheridan yet again'
-- Time Out
'This book is a fast-paced, page-turner and grabs your attention from the first chapter. There's also a crafty twist at the end.' -- The Yorkshire Post