Friday, January 16, 2009

Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain (8/81)

C2008 328 pages 5 stars


Picking up a few months after the events in Heart Sick, Sweetheart resumes with journalist Susan Ward. Susan has finally convinced a source to talk and she now has the goods on a powerful, five-term senator. Will this be the making of her career? And how exactly does the senator’s story relate to the bodies Archie Sheridan keeps pulling from the park? Even though Gretchen Lowell remains in custody, Archie struggles with putting the Beauty Killer case behind him. Still addicted to Vicodan, he swallows his pills every morning and ponders the heart she carved into his chest. One afternoon Archie is informed that Gretchen has escaped and he is instantly pulled from the purgatory the last few months have been to him. Is he rushing into a detective’s paradise, the cat-and-mouse game he lives for, or down into the hell of his own destruction?

I chose this book for my Favorite Author’s Books I Haven’t Read category. Chelsea Cain immediately secured a place on my watch list last year when I read Heart Sick. I couldn’t wait to read the next installment and I was really excited to read it in tandem with RidgewayGirl, as we had discussed the first book together.
I absolutely love that feeling when you pick up a sequel to a book that you really enjoyed. That warm fuzzy cloak of familiarity mixed with an electric buzz of anticipation just gets me every time. I started to feel that the moment I picked up Sweetheart from the library. It was the same feeling I used to get with Patricia Cornwell, before Lucy was gay and Benton was dead.
Having majored in Journalism, my favorite character in this book should be Susan but it’s not. I must admit that Archie has captured my attention.When the story opens Archie has been reunited with his family, and he’s desperately pretending that everything is back to normal. And I love him for that. For trying to be the good husband and the good father. But I also love to see him with Gretchen because he is fully both victim and nemesis. He has an edginess, an angst, that I find irresistible.
I did enjoy Susan's story, particularly when she and Henry are searching for Archie. The dialogue between those two is gold.
Now, you can make comparisons between Heart Sick/Sweetheart and Thomas Harris’s Hannibal saga all day long, there’s plenty of fodder there. That doesn’t mean this is a cardboard copy, far from it. I have found Cain’s story so much more engaging. Maybe it’s because I’m female or she’s female or the serial killer is female, or all three. I don’t know.
Cain has delivered a solid followup, in fact, I believe it to be superior to its predecessor.

Memorable Quotes:

"That's always the one you remember. First cigarette. First kiss. First corpse in a park."

"A master's degree in creative writing. Five years of newspaper journalism. And still, the only question she could manage was 'What's going on?'"

"The other coffee was black. He handed her the black one. 'Dark and bitter, right?' he said."

"You have to turn back," he said to Henry, motioning back down the mountain.
Henry pointed to the siren on the hood. "Portland PD," he said.
"Have you come to arrest the fire?" the ranger asked.

Fans of crime fiction and thrillers will enjoy it. Fair warning: contains language, sex and graphic descriptions of crime scenes.


Annie said...

Do you have a problem with the fact that Lucy is a lesbian?

VictoriaPL said...

Not particularly, but I think it's a good signpost for where Cornwell's writing changed for me. Something about her work was different and not just in her Scarpetta novels either. I kept buying her books but with less and less enthusiasm and after she killed Benton off I was hard pressed to read her any more. I should also say that I'm notorious for preferring an author's first works better than later novels. Cornwell has plenty of company in that regard. Kate Wilhelm, George Herbert, Elizabeth Hand, Diana Gabaldon, even J K Rowling. I rarely finish large series of books.