… the female serial killer who gives Hannibal Lecter a run for his money? Chelsea Cain’s novel Heartsick follows Gretchen Lowell, who was one of the country’s most notorious serial killers until she turned herself in to the police. Detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years of his life hunting Gretchen, until she finally kidnapped him, subjected him to days of horrific torture, and then set him free when she turned herself in. But even though Gretchen is in prison, Archie can’t shake the disturbing hold she has over him. He visits her cell on a weekly basis, looking for information on the undiscovered bodies Gretchen left behind. But now there’s been another set of murders, and Archie, along with reporter Susan Ward, are drawn to Gretchen’s prison cell in the hopes she can help them catch a killer almost as evil as she is.
Archie is the epitome of a damaged hero, with his Stockholm-Syndrome relationship and his new addiction to pain medication. But despite that, he’s an extremely relatable character who somehow manages to keep going despite the overwhelming obstacles placed in his way. And I have to admit, I was not impressed by the idea of a female serial killer when I started this book, but holy cow, was I wrong. Gretchen Lowell is one of the most genuinely terrifying villains I’ve come across in a long time. I won’t go into the grisly details, but suffice it to say that this is one of the most intense serial killer stories I’ve ever read. Prepare for lots of graphic torture, murder descriptions, and psychological manipulation.
The comparisons to Silence of the Lambs are obvious (and warranted), but Heartsick really manages to stand on its own. If you enjoy psychological suspense and serial killer horror, this is by far one of the best.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)