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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Chelsea Cain's third thriller to feature the serial killer, Gretchen Lowell, is the best yet. This time round, the story brings Henry Sobol and Susan Ward a little more into the fold, though it will come as no surprise that Archie Sheridan has another scary ride.

The mainline story seems to unfold in the traditional way, with Archie still facing his demons and the reporter - sorry, journalist - Susan Ward, hoping to get an interview with him. But body parts and corpses turn up and clues do suggest that Lowell is back in business. But is she?

Thankfully, Sheridan sets out to track down the killer and, although it's a little coincidental, Susan, too, is brought into the hunt. From that point, the story is fast-paced; there's scarcely a page without absorbing action and it's a book that just demands you read on - and on.

I don't want to spoil the storyline but there is definitely a host of red herrings before Archie - and Susan - finally have to face the grim outcome of their investigation. And it's not pretty. Chelsea Cain is able to deliver blood and gore in abundance in ways that wil shock most of us and yet we still have to reach the end to see where we go from that point.

Fans, myself included, will be delighted. New readers will certainly not be disappointed with the style and flair she puts into her novels. Oh dear, another year to wait now for her next book.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Chelsea Cain is formerly known for having written 'the hippie handbook' and a few other wry and semi humourous books on being the child of a particular generation. Having reinvented herself as an adult writer of gory thrillers, I was eager to see what Chelsea did next. The 3rd GL serial killer story is as gory as the first two books, but frankly, the idea of a beautiful female slice and dicer is wearing thin. Cain piles on the gore as usual but this was overdone and elicited yawns instead of thrills. There are also some howlers in the plot - for instance, on finding several eyeballs in a public toilet, one of the characters promises to keep an eye on things! That made me laugh until I realised it wasn't an intentional pun. The chapters are nice and short, which I liked, but Gretchen and Archie pursue their tortured lack of a relationship over 300 plus pages, largely because Cain insists on setting the scene with details that have no bearing on the plot. Apart from the two lead characters, which are over emphasized to cartoon status, the rest of the characters are one dimensional cardboard cutouts.It was nicely paced, there were several twists and turns, but the whole story was easily guessable and didn't really drawn the reader in. There's a lot of these thrillers on the market at the moment, this one is not up there with the cream of the crop.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In EVIL AT HEART, the beautiful and sadistic serial killer, Gretchen Lowell - the Beauty Killer - is back at work, killing people, removing their eyes and spleens and leaving her trademark heart symbol at her scenes. What adds more to the killer's arrogance is her celebrity status - groups of Gretchen fans now flood the internet. When new bodies with Gretchen's M.O. begin turning up all over Portland, detective Henry Sobol with the help of reporter (I mean journalist!) Susan Ward and the only victim of Gretchen's to survive, Archie Sheridan try to find a capture the killer once and for all.

I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed the previous two novels in Chelsea Cain's series (HEARTSICK and SWEETHEART) so couldn't wait to read the next one. Again this one is very, very brutal, gory and descriptive with some of the most grisly and stomach turning crime scenes I have ever read in crime fiction (and I read a lot of them!). The character's are all fantastic - if you take the genius yet insane mind of Hannibal Lector (The Hannibal Saga) mix it with the obsessive nature of Annie Wilkes (Misery), add the sick torture skills of Jigsaw (Saw) and the beauty and seductiveness of Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct), you'll begin to get some idea of what Chelsea Cain's character Gretchen Lowell is like. Archie is disturbed and dealing with his haunting past at the hands of Gretchen, yet not regretting having the affair and leaving his family, he is addicted to Vicodin and living in a mental institution. Susan is an up-and-coming journalist that will do anything to get an exclusive, including breaking and entering, riding along with Henry and generally not listening to what she is being told to do. Henry is the tough-guy cop who I really like, however not enough is given away about him.

I enjoyed this book and read it in no time at all. It is a great follow-on from the previous two but could easily be read as a standalone. I knock a star off as although there are plenty of murders, Gretchen doesn't appear in this one very much (which is explained), otherwise this would have gotten a full 5 stars from me. A highly recommended read and I can't wait to read Cain's next novel now.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having already read Heartsick and Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain I couldn't wait to get stuck into this the third instalment.
Although this could be read as a standalone novel I really would recommend you read them in order to get the full history and understand the characters better.

In Evil at Heart the obsessive relationship between the 'Beauty Killer' Gretchen Lowell and Detective Archie Sheridan continues where it left off at the end of Sweetheart. At the end of the previous novel escaped serial killer Gretchen Lowell and Cop Archie Sheridan make a deal - he won't commit suicide and she won't kill anymore. Two months on he's in hospital fighting his addiction to painkillers and she's broken her end of the deal.

Elevated by the media to some sort of celebrity status, Gretchen's face is on billboards, buses, magazine covers, there's been a paperback, fan websites are springing up all over the place and she's still on the loose. The media hype has led to her being accredited with not just national but global murders too. As the body count grows, so does the publics fascination with this killer.

Chelsea Cain is a master of the disturbing and psychological thriller and her detailed depiction of the crimes and crime scenes are pretty gruesome so this maybe wouldn't be the best choice for someone who is squeamish. The characterisation is another area that this author excels in and again it's brilliantly done with reporter Susan Ward and Detective Henry Sobol coming more to the fore than previously.

Unlike the previous two novels I didn't really feel that this one really got going until halfway through, but from then on once again I was fully immersed in the characters and the storyline until it reached its gripping conclusion. Now I just can't wait for the next one.
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This is the 3rd instalment in the (female serial killer) Gretchen and (investigator) Archie Sheridan series and Chelsea Cain did it again, what a thrill. When body parts start showing up around Portland along with Gretchen's trademark, many many little hearts drawn at the crime scenes, Archie checks himself out of the hospital and goes after Gretchen with Henry and reporter Susan by his side. Archie and Henry believe it's Gretchen sending them a message. But Susan has made contact with someone from a Gretchen Lowell fan group (yes fan group). Apparently Gretchen is some kind of a celebrity by now, there are bus tours and there is even a Beauty Killer manicure. It seems sick and in the meantime something that could really happen. Now is it really Gretchen slicing and dicing up victims or is there a fan acting as a copycat serial killer? Cain keeps us guessing what is going on. She really surprises the reader and keeps us guessing even some more in the end about what is true or not.. I love Cain’s sick and twisted mind, not for the faint at heart though because again some very graphic scenes but I’m already wondering what n° 4 Night Season will bring us.
If you liked reading my honest opinion, please give me a vote so I can get closer to the top reviewers. Thank you.
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on 26 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Is it just me or are we seeing more and more novels 'inspired' by earlier hit novels. How many novels do we see that are in the same genre as Da Vinci Code and also how many serial killer novels are fashioned in the image of the novels by Thomas Harris? Evil at Heart is an example of this. You have an extremely intelligent, medically trained killer who developes a strange bond with the detective who is trying to catch her.

If you are totally unfamiliar with the Harris novels then this book will read very well, it is a page turner, but sadly anyone who has read the Harris books will find themselves comparing the two and Evil at Heart does not come of best.
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VINE VOICEon 1 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I never think it good to come into a series half way through, which is what I did with this one. When I started to read it, I thought I was going to really enjoy this and read about 100 pages. Two days later, I went back to it and found myself reacting very differently. I no longer believed in the characters and did not care what happened to any of them. By this time, I had read another 150 pages. The awful truth is I don't feel sufficiently interested to read any more.

It may well be that this is a great book but, for whatever reason, it hasn't hit the spot with me. If you need to be involved with a book's characters and care about what happens to them, I suspect you might feel as I did. Read what other reviewers have to say before parting with your cash.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 November 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Chelsea Cain's debut novel Heartsick was one of the best novels of its kind in 2007, but the sequel Sweetheart was a big disappointment. Somehow she has managed to rescue her brand and produce a very good novel that, unlikely though it sounds, still features the same serial killer and the same cop as in the first two stories. It's a lot better than Sweetheart, but it's not as good as Heartsick.

The reason is simple. What made the first novel so great was the relationship between the two leading characters Archie Sheridan (the cop) and Gretchen Lowell (the killer), and this time around, while the story is mainly about Gretchen, she hardly features in the narrative at all. When she does appear at last, that's the best part of the book. But there's not enough of her in narrative terms, and she doesn't interact directly enough with Archie to provide us with the treats we enjoyed in the first novel. And while there are several interesting supporting characters - some new, some familiar - the real 'heart' of this series is the Archie-Gretchen affair, for want of a better word.

What makes this a very good read is a high standard of writing and the sustained level of tension and mystery from start to finish. It's one of the few thrillers of 2009 that actually has thrills in it. It's almost as if Chelsea Cain listened to the criticisms of her previous book and did her best not to make the same mistakes again. To a large extent she has succeeded, but in the faint hope that she is reading this I would appeal to her to give Gretchen Lowell a rest now, and apply her talents to a completely new story. That might mean leaving out Archie Sheridan too, because some might argue that you can't have one without the other; so how about a fresh start with Archie's partner Henry Sobol as front man?

As for Evil at Heart, I do think it makes for a better read if the superb original novel is read first, and, although it's not that good, even the second one too. This is a kind of thriller soap-opera as opposed to a more conventional series, and the reader will benefit from knowing exactly how Archie got to be in a mental hospital, which is where he is at the start of this third novel; the background to his character is important and the only way to fully appreciate that history is to read the first two novels. This one is very good, it is of course possible to read it as a one-off but it's even better (quite a lot better, I'd suggest) when read as part of the trilogy and in the right order. At the very least, anyone considering Evil at Heart should read Heartsick first because it is really outstanding, one of the best thrillers I have read in recent years.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 September 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having never read Chelsea Cain I had not read the first and second instalment in the "Gretchen Lowell" series however this didn't' make the slightest bit of difference. There is enough history about the characters to be able to get a feel for the previous 2 books in this current story. Having said that I think I would like to go back and read the other two to get the bigger picture.

The story picks up with Archie Sheridan who is busy facing his own personal demons when Henry Sobol his old partner comes along and shatters his world with the news he has been hoping he won't get. The serial killer who made Archie's life hell and had escaped was not only on the run but was now back on the warpath and murdering once again. Susan Ward is a journalist who found herself involved in the last case between Gretchen and Archie and finds herself once again embroiled into the dark world of murder. Between them they follow various murder victims to what they hope will be Gretchen's hiding place. The murders themselves are quite gruesome in detail and not for the squeamish or faint hearted. WE learn quite a bit about Susan who is a fantastic character. She is a reporter/journalist who is quite feisty and tends to not listen when told she cannot do something. Her and Archie spend an awful lot of time together chasing demons and both getting caught out in situations they shouldn't have been in, in the first place.

The finale of this book was great and without giving any spoilers Archie is faced head on with all his demons at once and by the final chapter I was already wondering when the next instalment is out. Although I wouldn't rate this as one of my favourite crime thrillers I thought this was a fantastic read and would definitely recommend.
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on 18 October 2012
This is the third book in the Gretchen Lovell series and I have enjoyed this just as much as the other two. I have reviewed all of them now and can say that I read them back to back and could put any of them down. As the series progressed the books did too and I can say that having got to know the characters from the other books I could not put it down.
Would recommend all three books in the series, and look forward to reading more of Chelsea Cain.
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