Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain - No, Not the Candy Kind

Pros: Oooh Gretchen is out! And hey, no serial killers! (er, apart from Gretchen anyway)
Cons: I’m starting to not like Archie…at all. And I don’t buy Gretchen’s escape.

The Bottom Line: Ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome? Yeah. Archie's got that. BAD. Makes for an interesting story.

Hmm. Apparently I forgot to write a review about the first book. Anywho, in case you're just tuning in, this is the second book in Chelsea Cain's Gretchen Lowell series. Gretchen is female serial killer who has a Hannibal Lecter-like grip over detective Archie Sheridan. You could get away with reading this book first, but it would be better to read Heartsick first.

This time around, Archie is brought into a string of deaths that may or may not be connected with a government official and a journalist. While trying to decipher all the clues, Gretchen Lowell escapes and guess what? Surprise, surprise - she wants Archie. Will he be able to face her and solve the case? Or will stopping Gretchen once and for all be the last thing he ever does?

First off, Cain gets kudos for bringing all the elements of her story into use. For example, there's mention of a forest fire a few times early on in the story - later on that comes into play. Each character is distinctive, and I really like Henry. Susan has her moments, but she can get kind of annoying at times. Of course, I have no idea why she would be allowed around in some situations, but oh well, that's fiction for you, right?

The murder story is interesting, and even though it had its flaws, I was glad for something different. I mean, if there's a serial killer on the loose in every book, well that's a bit of a problem. Likewise, since most serial killers tend to kill women (as with the first one - and with the exception of Gretchen), I'm just not going to read that. It's too creepy. As a woman, the idea freaks me out, which is why if I read anything with murder mysteries, I tend to want them on the stupid/fun/cozy side. The realistic ones only succeed in giving me the heebie-jeebies.

The main line - Archie vs. Gretchen - is what everyone reads these books for. Gretchen is one messed up woman. I wouldn't classify her as crazy. That's just too easy. No, her brain is wired differently. She knows what she's doing. But she doesn't see things the way most people do. Like Mr. Lecter as she is so often compared to (even by moi). It's a really twisted up game of cat and mouse - like if Tom and Jerry weren't cartoons for kids and did real damage to each other. Yeah. Messed up like that. It's interesting, but I do have a few qualms about it. First of all, I don't buy Gretchen's escape. At all. One, you don't move someone that dangerous with just two guards. Two, do you know what kind of weapon you need to cut off head? Do you know how much time and effort that would take? Sorry, but that's just not feasible.

I'm also getting to the point where Archie needs to either kill Gretchen or die himself. Not that I don't like Archie, but whoa is that guy scrambled. Then again, I guess I can't say he didn't try...

It's a good yarn if you like murder mysteries that aren't ridiculous/cozy/fun. It's dark, bloody, and with the appropriate number of decomposing corpses here and there.


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