Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

An easy read, and compelling enough to finish in just a couple sittings. The central relationship, that of Gretchen and Archie, is extremely fascinating, a cop with Stockholm syndrome, falling for the woman who’s torturing him to death. And Cain doesn’t hold back on the torture scenes at all, gritty graphic stuff.

It does feel a bit like a clone of early Thomas Harris novels. I think Susan the reporter felt underdeveloped and almost unnecessary. She was a prop throughout the story, not really driving the mystery forward, nor was any deep personal journey revealed. Her first meeting with the After School Strangler abandons all logic in a scene that is crucial to the finale of the story. It was like literary duct tape used to hold the beginning and end of the story together; both sides are pretty solid, but the bridge to get there is hastily constructed.

I enjoy the cat and mouse that takes place between Archie and Gretchen, but I’m going to wait to check out further installments in this series until I’m sure there’s a finale (which could possibly be book #3, due out soon). While it’s interesting to read the exploits of these killers, I’d also like to see them get what’s coming to them, rather than book after book straining their mythos ever thinner…(ahem, Mr. Harris).

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