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Evil at Heart (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell) Mass Market Paperback – Bargain Price, November 29, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 244 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, Bargain Price, November 29, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gretchen Lowell strikes again—or does she?—in bestseller Cain's grisly third thriller to feature the female serial killer who takes sadistic pleasure in taunting Portland, Ore., detective Archie Sheridan (after Sweetheart and Heartsick). A violent attack that leaves body parts in a rest stop bathroom, along with Lowell's signature heart design, persuades Sheridan, a recovering Vicodin addict, to leave rehab and rejoin the hunt for Lowell. As he and newspaper reporter Susan Ward dig deeper, they discover that while the corpses cropping up around town are reminiscent of Lowell's nasty handiwork, they might also point to one of the myriad fan clubs dedicated to the killer, who has become a media sensation since she escaped from prison in Heartsick. Even though readers may wonder how much longer this extended game can play out, Cain delivers her usual blend of organ-ripping, blood-soaked gore and compelling flawed heroes—and antiheroes. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“She’s the most twisted—and most beautiful—serial killer on the planet, and she’s back... It’s not to be missed.” —USA Today

“You have to hand it to Cain, who’s made the serial-killer genre a thoroughly female-friendly experience. . . . [She] churns stomachs with a delicate touch.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Remember the old debate about which is mightier, the pen or the scalpel? In Evil at Heart, both are in the same hands, and both cut all the way to the bone.” —The Oregonian

“Cain is among a new breed of women writers stepping way out of the stereotypical female comfort zones… serving up meatier and more gruesome stories…. Cain knows how to keep readers fortified with psychological drama.” —Chicago Sun Times

“The narrative bounces along with Cain’s trademark mix of tight plotting, creepy characters, and body parts.”—Charlotte Observer

“Cain continues to display her remarkable ability to probe the psyches of her characters... Popular entertainment—the kind that mixes crime, horror, and even a little black comedy—just doesn’t get much better than this.” —Booklist (starred review)


“High-octane…quick-paced…frightening…The world that Cain creates is as dark and ominous as ever….This is the mood that Cain has mastered: the dread of knowing that something is off…It is what presses her readers onward, pulses racing.” —The New York Times Book Review

The Night Season has headlong pacing, endearing characters, twisted humor, and scalpel-sharp descriptions of murder and mayhem. It grabs you like a deadly undertow and doesn’t let go.”—Parade Magazine (Parade Picks)

“Superb…Cain pinned readers to their seats with a unique mix of horror, black humor, and psychological tension. This time she adds another arrow to her narrative quiver: the interplay between landscape and mood…Terrifying.”—Booklist (starred review)

 “Chelsea Cain has a scary talent for creating twisted characters…deliciously creepy.” —Fresh Fiction

“The suspense is plentiful and Cain’s evocation of the gloomy atmosphere and Portland setting is superb…excellent…the new queen of serial-killer fiction.”—Kirkus Reviews


“We’ve been down Hannibal Lecter Avenue many times, and these books shouldn’t work...but they do. Chalk it up to excellent writing and Cain’s ferocious sense of humor. The Portland (Ore.) setting is refreshing, too.”—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly (A Top-Ten Book of the Year)

“Sensual and engulfing…keeps us turning the pages.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Superb...With its brisk pacing, carefully metered violence and tortured hero, Cain’s sophomore effort will leave readers desperate for more.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Cain’s debut Heartsick had even the most jaded thriller fans sleeping with the lights on. She tells an equally frightening story in Sweetheart.”—USA Today

“Profoundly creepy and disturbing.”—The Boston Globe

“A sharp psychological inquiry into evil and obsession, as well as a deeply unhealthy love story.”—The Seattle Times

Sweetheart is not afraid to explore damage too severe to be undone.”—Los Angeles Times

“The forces that conspired to make Cain’s Heartsick a bestselling page-turner last year have reunited in its sequel…With her preternatural grasp of pacing and ability to create vivid characters with astonishing economy, Cain expertly drives her narrative.”—Los Angeles Times

“[Cain] pushes the form to an undeniably persuasive and irresistible guilty pleasure.” —The Oregonian

“There are numerous thrills to be had.”—Kirkus Reviews

“White-hot.”—Sacramento Bee

“High octane”—Library Journal 

“Chelsea Cain is a rising star…Sweetheart reunites the characters of her terrific hit debut [and] advances the Archie-Gretchen relationship exotically and dramatically.”—The Sunday Times (London) 

“The writing style, combined with a Thomas Harris-like relish for human gore, translated into a remarkably fresh and exciting thriller that didn’t miss the opportunities for laughs in the midst of the carnage.”—Toronto Star


“A distinctive and disturbing novel that blurs the lines between suspense fiction and psychological suspense…Mystery fans who enjoy their whodunits decidedly creepy should thoroughly enjoy this fast-paced and downright gruesome psychological thriller.”—Chicago Tribune

“Move over, Hannibal Lecter! Chelsea Cain’s thriller boasts a wicked new serial murderer…one of the most seductive and original psychopaths since Hannibal…In addition to spiky characters, Cain has a crisp voice, a wicked sense of humor, and an imagination for all the horrors that can unfold in a locked basement…a profoundly creepy thriller.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Readers will feel Archie’s exquisite pain, and they’ll relate to the troubled young reporter…An excellent choice for mystery readers who like to be creeped out.”—The Miami Herald 

“Thoroughly engaging… The journey to the end of Heartsick is more pleasure than pain.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“It does the Hannibal Lecter genre proud. You’ll find yourself waiting anxiously for the planned next book in the series.”—Rocky Mountain News

Heartsick is a very different, and a very good, novel…The twisted tale of Archie and Gretchen is enough to hold any novel together, but Cain adds a perfectly detailed hunt to the mix…There are more books to come in this series. I can hardly wait. “—Toronto Globe

“Thoroughly compelling.” —The Seattle Times

“One of the most original serial-killer thrillers to appear in several years…Throw out all your assumptions about the sameness of serial-killer novels; this one breaks the mold… The thriller of the year.”—Booklist (starred review)

“The book puts such an original spin on [serial-killer novels] that Cain might as well have invented a new genre… It deserves a wide audience.”—Toronto Star 

“Outstanding…[Lowell] is as memorable a villain as Hannibal Lecter…A vivid literary style lifts this well above the usual run of suspense novels.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“Cain creates a cleverly contorted thriller plot and characters with memorable personalities.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Packed with razor-edged character studies, realistic dialogue and an unyielding plot, Heartsick is on of the year’s freshest and most original mysteries…The brisk plot never lets up as Cain keeps the suspense level high. Heartsick is a superb police procedural.”—Florida Sun-Sentinel

“A gory suspense piece that is absolutely impossible to put down… Stylistically, this is great stuff for true-crime readers and for those who enjoy Jan Burke’s Irene Kelly series. Recommended.”—Library Journal

“Dark, distressing and disturbing, Heartsick is also a triumph of the human heart. Just pray you never meet Gretchen.”—Val McDermid, bestselling author of The Grave Tattoo

“An excellent choice for mystery readers who like to be creeped out.”—Fort Worth Star Telegram

“I’m looking forward to the next adventure of this unlikely pair.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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Product Details

  • Series: Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; First Edition edition (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250004128
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,892,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In Chelsea Cain's "Evil at Heart," forty-year old homicide detective Archie Sheridan has taken up residence in the Providence Medical Center psychiatric ward in Portland, Oregon. After being victimized by serial killer Gretchen Lowell and becoming addicted to pain pills, Archie signed himself in voluntarily. Because of Gretchen's hold over him, Archie wrecked his marriage and is on leave from his job. His goal is to rid himself of his twin obsessions: Vicodin and Gretchen. In spite of Lowell's cruelty, Archie admits that he craved the company of this gorgeous but deadly predator. He has progressed enough to concede that he has serious issues to work through before he can be considered "cured." Unfortunately, Gretchen is still at large and the mayhem has not yet ended. Human bodies and body parts begin to show up all over town; either Gretchen is back at work or a copycat is emulating her.

This is Cain's best work to date. Instead of playing it straight and simply grossing us out with descriptions of nauseating gore, the author injects elements of dark humor that enliven the proceedings enormously. It seems that Lowell, known popularly as the "Beauty Killer," has become something of a folk heroine. Although she has slaughtered and mutilated many men and women, her image is everywhere: She has a Wikipedia page, there are fan sites devoted to her on the Web, and people are wearing T-shirts with her face on them. Gretchen memorabilia is being sold on eBay, and there is even a "Beauty Killer Body Tour. Thirty-five bucks. Twenty crime-scene stops." How did this madwoman become an icon? Cain implies that we live in a warped society whose values have become seriously perverted. At one point, Archie says to some young Lowell groupies, "Gretchen Lowell is a psychopath.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Seductive serial killer Gretchen Lowell is back and detective Archie Sheridan has her! Or maybe I should say that he STILL has her (and can't get rid of her). More precisely, it's actually Gretchen who has Archie! Together, they form the heart of Chelsea Cain's third installment in her bloody "Heart" series--"Evil at Heart." Introduced in the disturbing thriller "Heartsick," Gretchen Lowell is a delightfully diabolical villain--a sexy version of Hannibal Lector--who uses her charm, intelligence, and feminine wiles to commit the most heinous of crimes. But it is the twisty and co-dependent relationship between her and her victim/pursuer Archie that provides the most satisfaction in "Heartsick" and its follow-up "Sweetheart." The ultimate in dysfunctional relationships, these two toy with one another in a dance of enormous physical and psychological torment. Got to love it!

"Heartsick" and "Sweetheart" were slick and fun entertainment--pretty standard serial killer material raised to new levels of interest with the Gretchen/Archie dynamic. If you enjoyed these novels, I suspect that "Evil at Heart" will also keep you turning pages. Gretchen's actual presence is less than one might expect, but her influence permeates every page. When body parts start to surface at some of Gretchen's old murder sites (she is an escaped fugitive), the old team must try to piece together their significance. Trying to end Gretchen's hold on him once and forever, Archie must get himself out of a mental ward and back into action. And the only thing more disturbing than Gretchen herself is the legion of fans she seems to have inspired.

"Evil at Heart" is a fast and easy read that fans of the series should definitely check out.
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I really enjoyed the first two books in the series but the third book is getting tiresome. Especially with respect to Gretchen's superhuman ability to charm EVERY person she ever meets. I just don't buy that at all. I can understand that a guard, posted to watch her every day for more than 2 years, could eventually be persuaded to help her. But a deputy that has only been in the transport van with her for 15 minutes? Suddenly he'd kill for her and help her escape? Why? And the orderly at the hospital where Archie is trying to recover from his addiction? Per the timeline Archie has only been in the facility 2 months, at most. So how is Gretchen able to convince the orderly to spy on Archie, kill an innocent teen and cut out her eyeballs, and then KILL HIMSELF???!!!

Is she some sort of vampire? A witch with the powers of hypnosis? I just don't get it, and it's the only irritating part of the series but it's EXTREMELY irritating. It was really a good plot twist in the first book: "OMG! She has a partner!". Now every third person introduced in the book is secretly a servant of Gretchen Lowell.

Sorry, this plot device is overused and just not believable anymore. You end up spending more time playing "Spot the mole" than following the actual mystery.
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Okay, the storyline of this book was weird. I don’t even really want to talk about it because I’m not sure what to say. It was just…odd. I finished this book unsure of what I had read and spent a significant amount of time contemplating it before I gave up trying to figure out what on Earth inspired Cain to write this. I mean, it fit with the disturbing serial killer theme. But other than that…yeah, I don’t know.

It also felt like this one was just a setup to catch Gretchen again as opposed having a lot of substance on its own. It does set up some new recurring characters that are fairly important for the subsequent books, but of course, I didn’t know that when I actually reading this. I was left very lost and confused.

It was nice to see that Archie has somewhat reasonably recovered from his suicidal breakdown in the previous book, and I did find his developing paranoia over Gretchen’s influence in his life to be pretty believable. His development is well handled in this installment.

Gretchen is in the periphery of this book a lot, which I found a very interesting tactic. Instead of being in the spotlight literally, the idea of her is in the spotlight. Society has used Gretchen’s infamy to integrate her into pop culture, which is a disturbing enough concept by itself, but it’s made even more disturbing by the fact that she’s almost idolized. She’s a beautiful killer, and that’s rare, so people are fascinated by her. Cain presents a reasonably fair critique of society using Gretchen as a mode of interest and intrigue.

However, I will say she took it over the top at times. Like in the previous book, there were several things I had a hard time buying into. Moderation and balance, like I mentioned last time, are key.
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