Monday, February 15, 2010

Book 13 - Sweetheart

Gretchen escapes. Nuff said.

Okay, not enough said. Not nearly enough.

In Heartsick, the book where I first met serial murderess Gretchen Lowell, and if I'm to be honest with myself began my obsession with Gretchen Lowell, Chelsea Cain introduces a creepy relationship between a tortured cop and a beautiful killer. In that book, Gretchen is behind bars, their banter reminiscent of Starling/Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

In Sweetheart, Gretchen's out.

Oh. My. God.

If Chelsea Cain were teaching a writing course on character development, I'd move mountains to get to it. I assumed that with Gretchen "out there" killing people, doing her thing, I'd move from loving her to being disgusted. Not the case. My obsession with her has only deepened. That's testament to Cain's skill.

As with Heartsick, Gretchen and Archie's codependency is only one thread of a complex story line and it is also the most compelling. But Cain also gives more depth to the supporting cast of investigative reporter Susan, her unique mother Bliss, Archie's ex-wife Debbie, and fellow cop Henry. Since Gretchen isn't interested in any of them, it would be tempting to ignore them as well - if not for the smooth infusion of each of their crisis points into the overall plot.

To divulge more of the story would spoil the book and I offer the usual disclaimer: there's swearing and there's sex, there's gore and torture. And there's Gretchen. Sweetheart is not for the faint of heart.

Cain has fast become one of my favourite authors, and Sweetheart now ranks among my top books. I have no doubt I'll be reading it again and again, not just because I'm obsessed with Gretchen, but also to study how Cain creates amazing characters and has an awe-inspiring ability to draw out emotions I shouldn't have.

But first, I need to read Evil at Heart, the last (for now) installment of Gretchen and Archie's tragic love story.

PS - Sorry for the lack of "hot muse Monday" but if I could have found a picture of a woman I though would do Gretchen justice, I might have used her as my muse avatar. Instead, I've asked last week's muse to start channeling Chelsea Cain's talent.

The Book In My Bag Today: Evil at Heart, Chelsea Cain

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