Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Ok, so maybe this particular Chelsea Cain book isn't about her famous lady killer, Gretchen Lowell, but when it comes to writing good killin' spree thrillers, Cain has it down. If you haven't read Chelsea Cain's previous three Beauty Killer books, I highly recommend them. Heartsick is the first of the series and introduces us to Archie Sheridan, Susan Ward, and the evil Gretchen Lowell. Archie tries to balance professional duty with his obsession with Lowell, the serial killer who can get away with almost anything by combining a manipulative personality and stunning good looks. Susan Ward is the local reporter that becomes a sort of sidekick/pain in the butt for Archie. Don't get me wrong, this synopsis may seem silly or suggest the book is a bit campy. It's not. Cain writes a serial killer that oozes sex appeal and you watch helplessly as it steam rolls everyone in her path.
One of the reasons I loved Chelsea Cain's previous novels is because she did such a fantastic job of building the character of Archie over each book. I was angry at him for most of Heartsick and grew to really care about him by Evil At Heart. Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil At Heart were all smart, gripping, and chilling. So when The Night Season came out, I was a bit disappointed to see that the story didn't focus on Gretchen's continuing reign of terror. The Night Season is a standalone novel featuring Archie Sheridan and Susan Ward, as well as a number of other characters we've come to know. The city of Portland is struggling with a flooding river and mysterious deaths. Archie and Susan work together to determine the cause of death while dealing with personal blows of their own. The premise of how the people are being killed off is a bit ridiculous but I was dying (no pun intended) to know how it worked.
Overall, this was a satisfying story that kept me reading well past my bedtime each night. I wasn't nearly as grossed out or intruiged as I have been by her previous novels, but I still felt like Archie and Susan held their own. If you haven't read her other books, you can absolutely read this by itself without missing much. I think Chelsea Cain is one of the most entertaining female thriller authors of the past couple years. I will wait patiently for her next book (hurry up!) and recommend the current four to anyone looking for something new and fun!
p.s. if you read The Night Season and it doesn't totally work for you, don't give up on Cain! Go back and read the Gretchen Lowell books. I promise, they are worth it.