Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind---addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie's a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she's right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth---he can't stay away.
When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.
In this outstanding thriller, the first in a new series, Cain (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth) puts a fresh spin on a scenario familiar to fans of Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs. When someone starts dumping the bodies of teenage girls around Portland, Ore., after soaking them in tubs of bleach, Archie Sheridan, a police detective addicted to pain killers, turns for help to Gretchen Lowell, an imprisoned serial killer who once tortured him (the big scar on his chest "was shaped like a heart"). Covering the crimes is reporter Susan Ward, a smart-alecky punk with pink hair and authority issues. The suspense builds as the narrative shifts between Sheridan's new case and his ordeal with Lowell, who in her own way is as memorable a villain as Hannibal Lecter. The damp Portland locale calls to mind the kind of Pacific Northwest darkness associated with Ted Bundy and Kurt Cobain. A vivid literary style lifts this well above the usual run of suspense novels. 200,000 first printing; author tour.
Excellent character study
Although I found the main plot predictable the characters made this novel worth the read. I was afraid Gretchen was another Hannibal Lector clone but she is a whole other side of disturbed. Archie, the ultra Stockholm syndrome sufferer, is a damaged yet laudable protagonist. The combination is hard to forget.
Specific description of physical torture and the Stockholm syndrome. Is this how the Stockholm syndrome works? An absolutely convoluted evil and the mind she's trying to own. Both playing 4 (perhaps 5)dimensional chess.
My surroundings disappeared whenever I continued the narrative.
I think that this novel gives The Silence of the Lambs a run for it’s money. Gretchen Lowell is the most interesting serial killer character since Hannibal Lecter.