Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain
I fell in love with Archie Sheridan and his obsessive disorder with the Serial Killer Grethen Lowell in Chelsea Cain’s first book Heartsick. Sweet heart, Cain’s second installment was a little less nail-biting but still carried me all the way to the end with its sometimes predictable events. I totally loved the reporter Susan Wards active presence in the second novel. So when Evil at heart came around I was thrilled to have both Archie and Sheridan resuming active roles in Cain’s third installment.
With Evil at Heart the reader continues to follow Detective Archie Sheridan’s dangerous and obsessive ways only this time from inside the walls of a mental ward. He is in hiding. He feels safe here. And he believed Gretchen when she promised she wouldn’t kill (from book two) anymore.
So when Archie’s partner Henry arrives on the scene of a disgusting ‘betrayal’ with red hearts all over the bathroom walls, everyone knows that The Beauty Killer has struck again. Only Susan Ward, reporter and friend of Archie, has the strong belief that something else is amiss. Is Gretchen trying to get back in the game or is all the red hearts and new and fresh deaths from a growing number of Beauty Killer admirers?
Archie is egged on and harassed inside the mental ward and finally when someone he shows ‘consideration’ for is brutally murdered right down the hall from him and then moments later receives a phone call from Gretchen Lowell herself, Archie is propelled out the doors and is battling to find the Beauty Killer before she can strike again.
Archie and Susan Ward team up, although Archie knows plenty and he isn’t sharing the info. And yet he leads her into one dangerous scene to another which ultimately gets them both in trouble.
It seems that Cain wanted to break away from the relationship between the serial killer and the detective which in my opinion was fantastic. There can only be so many books (and two was enough in my POV) where the obsession becomes repeated and boring. By bringing in the cult of the mass murderer and their desires to be her most loyal admirers, even to the point of potentially copycatting, this story is very exciting. Explicit with details of pain and suffering, Cain does her best to not shy away from the gory details. She holds on to the darkness her novels take and she tries her best to enter into the twists and turns of mental stimulation and cerebral-like thriller. She succeeds only to a certain point.
I’ll give her kudos for trying to maintain the Sheridan and Lowell mind-screwing, especially at the end of the book. Her invented characters play with their full heart and the terrifying, devious ways of Gretchen Lowell are offered up to the reader (in smaller portions, but very yummy!). I wasn’t disappointed in the least.