Chelsea Cain’s books slay. The body count is high. The entertainment factor even higher.
As witness to Chelsea’s work – I’m in a writing group with her –Kill You Twice still pummels me with unexpected, explosive twists and turns. You realize that I already know the storyline when I open the finished book for the first time. Even so – and maybe because of my early participation – this Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell Novel is a powerhouse read.
The lead characters: The terribly-wounded detective Archie Sheridan. Gretchen Lowell, the gorgeous blonde desirable serial killer who cut out Archie’s spleen and carved a heart in his chest while he struggled for his life. Several times in the thriller, Archie comes close to death. And, he instinctively knows that Gretchen has spared him. The stand-alone thriller Kill You Twice magnifies each of the quirky, razor-sharp relationships in Cain’s books.
The scene is set
The vicious cat-and-mouse game accelerates with colorfully-coifed (orange, this time) newspaper reporter Susan; Henry, who is Archie’s wounded partner; and Henry’s pregnant GF/detective, Claire, all joining the case.
Killer Gretchen Lowell is locked away in a mental hospital, but homicide victims with her signature start showing up around the city of Portland. Gretchen gives random, self-serving clues – and a horrifying hospital-room interview with Susan.
The book opens with a gagged, skinned male corpse hanging from the tallest tree in a massive public park. I don’t have a squeamish stomach – hell, I’ve been at crime scenes, and let my imagination fill in the details beneath the blood-stained clothes and sheets. I watched the surgeons slice open my ripe belly – through a mirror rigged over my head in the OR – and pulled out my first son, after 42-hours of labor. And, I’ve sat still as Chelsea listed all the weird ways of dying. Or of being injured. Like using your finger as a fishhook to pull out your victim’s eye.
Chelsea, tall, fetching, with brilliant red lipstick – yes, she wears it to Workshop – is warm, nurturing, brilliant, with a wicked tongue. She tells stories so eviscerating that you want to look – and turn away – at the same time. Looking wins. Every time.
A few nights ago, Chelsea hosted Workshop.
Right about the time she mentioned the fish hook, we heard a sweet, small voice. “Mom, I’m going to bed now. Good night.” A dead ringer for a young Drew Barrymore, with the same adorable grin, Chelsea’s daughter hugs her – and most of the rest of us – and the little girl slips away into the darkness.
I sincerely doubt that Chelsea’s daughter has nightmares. I have this vague recollection that Chelsea conceived of the gorgeous Gretchen serial killer while she was pregnant.