Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: The Beauty Killer series by Chelsea Cain

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Blurb on the book cover:  A Living Nightmare.  Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer.  In the end, she was the one who caught him…and tortured him…and then let him go.  Why did Gretchen spare Archie's life and then turn herself in?  This is the question that keeps him up all night—and the reason why he has visited Gretchen in prison every week since.  A Deadly Obsession…  Meanwhile, another series of Portland murders has Archie working on a brand-new task force…and heading straight into the line of fire.  The local news is covering the case 24/7, and it's not long before Archie enters a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the killer—and his former captor.  But this time, it's up to Archie to save himself…

Chelsea Cain's Heartsick is a fast-paced thrill ride that doesn't let up until the very end.  The characters are endearing from tortured detective Archie Sheridan, protective detective Henry Sobel, charming and deadly Gretchen Lowell, and quirky Susan Ward.  Heartsick has the feel of Silence of the Lambs with a demented twist.  Serial killer Gretchen Lowell is a true enigma and perhaps even more seductive than Hannibal Lector.  Overall, I would highly recommend this book, and so far, it is my favorite in the series.

Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain


Blurb on the book cover:  Portland detective Archie Sheridan, the former head of the Beauty Killer Task Force, hunted Gretchen Lowell for years before she kidnapped him, tortured him, and then let him go.  Now that she is behind bars, Archie is finally piecing his life back together.  But no matter how hard Archie tries, he just can't stop thinking about Gretchen…  When the body of a young woman is discovered in Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the first corpse he discovered there a decade ago:  it turned out to be the Beauty Killer's first victim, and Archie's first case.  Then, the unthinkable happens:  Gretchen escapes from prison, and once the news breaks, all of Portland goes on high alert.  Archie knows he's the only one who can capture Gretchen—and now he has a plan.  Even if it means becoming her last victim…

Once again, Chelsea Cain allows us a glimmer into the mind of a serial killer in Sweetheart.  The reader learns more about Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell's relationship and perhaps why she didn't kill him.  Could it be love, darling, or something more sinister?  In prison or out, Gretchen finds a way to still torment Archie and strike fear in those around her.  This book focuses more on Gretchen, and I found that I enjoyed every minute of it.  Sweetheart has the flavor of Hannibal.  Overall, the thrilling adventure isn't over, and the destruction has just begun.

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

Blurb on the book cover:  Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose.  These days, she's more of a cause célèbre 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 number 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 détente 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?

In Chelsea Cain's Evil at Heart, we find that everyone is rooting for our favorite most beautiful serial killer Gretchen Lowell.  Her escape from prison inspires fan pages and perhaps even a fan club to continue her dastardly deeds.  Lies and twists abound, and the reader and characters don't know quite who to believe, even up to the end.  Personally, Evil at Heart was my least favorite of these three books.  I found the book, at times, to be too preachy on media's play on how we react to events and people.  Whether Gretchen or a Gretchen fan club killed people, I just didn't care because I didn't feel too connected to the victims like in the other books.  The best parts were the interaction between Susan and Archie.  Overall, I would still read this book for the witty and amusing remarks, but Evil at Heart lacked some heart that was prevalent in the previous two books.

In conclusion, I enjoyed "The Beauty Killer" series by Chelsea Cain.  I do hope there is another book in progress, and if it is to be successful, I believe Ms. Cain should return to what made Heartsick so great.

Reviews by Cherie Reich


Palindrome said...

I've not seen this series. Thanks for reviewing them. I love thrillers like these.

Aubrie said...

Great review! I don't usually read thrillers, but my sister does, so I'll tell her about this!

Lisa Rusczyk said...

Ohhh you write good reviews. I need to check out your review blog. Reading a particularly good one right now ; )