Nothing makes Portland detective Archie Sheridan happier than knowing that Gretchen Lowell—the serial killer whose stunning beauty is belied by the gruesome murders she’s committed—is locked away in a psych ward. Archie can finally heal from the near-fatal physical and emotional wounds she’s inflicted on him and start moving on with his life.

To this end, Archie throws himself into the latest case to come across his desk: A cyclist has discovered a corpse in Mount Tabor Park on the eastern side of Portland. The man was gagged, skinned, and found hanging by his wrists from a tree. It’s the work of a killer bold and clever enough to torture his victim for hours on a sunny summer morning in a big public park and yet leave no trace.

And then Archie gets a message he can’t ignore—Gretchen claims to have inside knowledge about this grisly murder. Archie finally agrees to visit Gretchen, because he can’t risk losing his only lead in the case. At least, that’s what he tells himself . . . but the ties between Archie and Gretchen have always been stronger, deeper, and more complex than he’s willing to admit, even to himself. What game is she playing this time? And even more frightening, what long-hidden secrets from Gretchen’s past have been dredged up that someone would kill to protect?

At once terrifying and magnetic, “Beauty Killer” Gretchen Lowell returns with a vengeance in Kill You Twice, Chelsea Cain’s latest razor-sharp psychological thriller.

There is definitely a reason why I rushed out to pick up Kill You Twice the very day it was released. I initially discovered the Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series by finding book two, Sweetheart, in the bargain book section, and, because I didn’t want to miss anything, started with book one, Heartsick. The Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series would turn out to be my favorite crime fiction series ever.

For me, this series isn’t just about the mystery of the case. The whodunit. It’s about the intricately woven story down to the last paragraph, line, word. It’s about the relationship between the killer and the detective. The way the characters play off each other, not like characters, but people. The humor throughout the book is expertly placed, along with the strength of Archie and Henry’s friendship, Archie’s sexual encounters with his neighbor, and his visits with Gretchen.

Chelsea Cain has a gift. I don’t believe that these books were a result of “I’ll try writing” for her. Writing is something she was meant to do. A destiny.

A warm sweet smell filled the room, and Gretchen turned away from him.
“You can go,” she said.
There was something wet on the floor.
Archie walked back around to her chair. A dark stain was growing on the lap of her gray pajama bottoms. The seat of the chair was slick with wet, something dribbling along the metal frame and down her pants leg.
“Are you okay?” Archie asked.
Gretchen’s eyelids fluttered, her nostrils flared. Her hair was back in her face again. “It’s the medication,” she muttered. For a moment he didn’t recognize her. She looked helpless. “I’m peeing myself,” she said.

Gretchen Lowell is a sick, twisted person. She not only murders people, but slaughters them. She has murdered hundreds of people. Yet, when she suffered in a dark room of a mental hospital, I felt bad for her. This is the capacity of Cain’s gift as a crime writer.

Some crime writers shell out books left and right, sometimes with no rhyme or reason. You don’t even have to read them in order to get the gist of it. This series is not like that. If you don’t read all five books that are available to you, in order, you will be missing some key point in the story. Cain doesn’t write these books with only the purpose of shocking you at the end; she brings you along for the ride. She writes with a realistic prose; she wants you to see what the characters are seeing, feel what they are feeling. You are one of them, as you read this book.

I would highly recommend Kill You Twice to fans of crime fiction who are looking for a little – a lot – of story, in their mystery, from the queen of serial killer fiction.

Published by Mark Brassington

Father and Husband. Works in Corporate Banking. Loves Books, Comics, Cycling, Music, Games, going to the Gym and Writing.

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    1. Yes, I would say so. That’s not to say there was no plot, but these are definitely character driven novels.

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