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Sweetheart Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 2, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 348 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 2, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In Cain's superb follow-up to Heartsick, damaged detective Archie Sheridan is back home in Portland, Ore., trying to resume a normal life. Archie's ties to serial killer Gretchen Lowell still run deep, even if he's stopped their weekly visits in prison. Meanwhile, reporter Susan Ward is finishing an article accusing a beloved U.S. senator of seducing his children's 14-year-old babysitter a decade earlier. When three bodies are discovered in a local park—where Archie's team found Gretchen's first victim 12 years earlier—Archie worries another serial killer is at large. After the senator's unexpected death, Susan discovers links between the sex scandal and the bodies in the park. When Gretchen escapes from prison, Archie knows he's the only one who can stop her from killing. In Cain's capable hands, Gretchen is both a monster and the only person who truly understands Archie's pain. With its brisk pacing, carefully metered violence and tortured hero, Cain's sophomore effort will leave readers desperate for more. 200,000 first printing. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* It was apparent at the end of Cain’s masterful Heartsick (2007) that we hadn’t heard the last from either Gretchen Lowell, the most mesmerizing serial killer since a fellow named Hannibal, or Archie Sheridan, the Portland cop whom Gretchen tortured and then freed, locking the two of them into a creepy symbiotic relationship somewhere between Romeo and Juliet and Holmes and Moriarity. Cain picks up the story with Sheridan trying to overcome his addictions to pain pills and Gretchen, respectively, and not doing very well with either. A new case—bodies found in a Portland park, near where Gretchen’s first victim was discovered—provides distraction as well as bringing punky, turquoise-haired reporter Susan Ward back into his life, but neither is enough to get Gretchen out of his mind. Then she escapes from prison, determined to draw Archie away from his family, away from his job, and into her arms for a deadly pas de deux. There is a little less gut-wrenching tension this time than there was in Heartsick—and less gut-wrenching gore, too—but there is considerably more psychological complexity, as the knot binding Archie to Gretchen tightens further. The psychosexual interplay between the two is endlessly fascinating and, amazingly, thoroughly believable. In addition, Cain gives more space to her supporting cast—especially reporter Ward, who seems ready for a starring role herself. It’s hard to say how long Cain can play out this lovers’ duel between Archie and Gretchen before they tumble into their own Reichenbach Falls, but it’s a sure thing we won’t be leaving our seats before the final curtain. --Bill Ott
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031236847X
  • ASIN: B0027CSNEY
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (348 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,343,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By enubrius VINE VOICE on July 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Sweetheart" is the sequel to last year's "Heartsick" both featuring hapless (and spleenless... don't ask)detective Archie Sheridan and America's sexiest serial killer Gretchen Lowell. Taken together they form a rather complex tale of masochism, sadism, disgusting behavior, horrific, even nauseating, perversion, and grue and gore. Needless to say, I loved every sick moment of it! To note, as the publisher does, that Gretchen is a sort of female Hannibal Lecter, is to oversimplify to the point of ridiculousness. She is her own stunning creation and more than a match for Thomas Harris' cannibal. Add to that the fact that "Sweetheart" is in and of itself, a pretty darn good whodunnit, and you've got a winner. One thing though: while some series/sequels are stand-alone enough to be read on their own, "Sweetheart" loses FAR too much if you don't read "Heartsick" first. Not to worry, though, you'll love it!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Second novels in a series are notoriously hard to write: the honeymoon period of just getting to know the characters is over, and look for more depth and roundness, while still demanding more of the 'good stuff' from the first novel.

If you loved _Heartsick_, you'll probably like this one. Like, not love, though. She's toned down the gruesome and replaced it with monumentally needless graphic sex and a metric ton of f-bombs. Even the exposition uses the naughty word. It makes her seem to be trying just a bit too hard to be gritty, rather like her character Susan who thinks she's edgy but is constantly out-edgied by her mother. And once again, you'll be treated to unnecessary descriptions of what EVERYONE is wearing. Seriously--why do I need to know that a morgue tech who doesn't even get a name or a line of dialogue is wearing corduroys? Or my personal favorite: "'There's a press conference at six,' Ian said. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt he'd bought at the MOMA gift store. 'You want it?'" 'Scuse me, but I'm not sure why I need to know Ian's sartorial choices at this particular juncture? Relevant to plot? No. Relevant to mood? No. Relevant to character building? Nope, we already know Ian pretty well. His clothes haven't changed from his carefully overdescribed wardrobe in _Heartsick_.

Because, oh yes, everyone's back. Remember that Molly Palmer story Susan was trying to promote in novel one? It's back, and apparently a key to a really rather trite and played out conspiracy-of-dunces scandal. And once again, the fresh dead bodies seem to take second stage to the older dead bodies, victims of Gretchen. Susan's less annoying this time, but Archie goes from a sympathetic character to a whingeing sad-sack. Take that as a double-entendre if you wish.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Following hot on the heels of the bestselling HEARTSICK, Chelsea Cain continues the story of Gretchen Lowell and Archie Sheridan in SWEETHEART. The second installment is really a continuation of the first as opposed to a full-blown sequel. The narrative picks up about two months after the conclusion of the first book. Sheridan is now back at home with his wife. He is no longer visiting Lowell in prison, though he obsesses about her and half-heartedly battles his downward spiral of prescription drug cocktails and dark fantasies.

Another body and unresolved cases brings many of the characters from HEARTSICK back. The rapid-fire pace of narrative that attracted me to the first novel isn't apparent in the follow-up. Perhaps its because Ms Cain has had time walk around in her characters' skins a little more or perhaps the reduction in pressure of "having to get it right", now that she has a bestseller, has allowed her to relax. Marginal players from HEARTSICK are fleshed out including Sheridan's long-suffering and guilt-ridden partner and his wife.

Lowell is too devious in SWEETHEART. She moves from the very clever to the unfathomably brilliant, able to predict the actions of police agencies and individuals alike as she contrives to end up in the prison hospital (where she will only tell Sheridan who attacked her), followed up a transfer across state, where she is conveniently under-guarded and manages to escape.

What follows is, unfortunately, a long litany of cliches and "just-in-time" arrivals. Sheridan and family, as well as Sue Ward, the reporter from the first story are all placed into protective custody but Lowell manages to track Sheridan down and he is more than willing to give himself to her, quite literally.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_Sweetheart_ is the sequel to Cain's Heartsick, tying up some loose ends from the first book and connecting the story newspaper writer Susan Ward was pursuing (remember Molly Parker) with a double-suicide and murder investigation headed by Archie Sheridan and loosely connected to incarcerated serial-killer / femme fatale Gretchen Lowell. Sure, its not high literature, but it is a guilty pleasure - all the more so for the way Cain writes about Portland and the thinly veiled scandals and public personalities she includes in the story.

The characters are deeply flawed (Ward apparently has unresolved issues that attracts her to older men, Sheridan has issues that attract him to the serial killer that literally skinned and carved him up alive, and Lowell is a sociopath), almost to the point of caricature - but like a bad car-wreck you can't turn away from, I was almost compelled to see how these damaged people interacted with a series of seemingly unrelated murders. That many of the details of the story (a former popular congressman had an affair with ahis children's 14 year-old babysitter, an ambitious mayor who was once the chief of police with national political ambitions) are based on real events in the Northwest made it all the more tantalizing. That Cain - herself a long-time reporter for the state's largest newspaper - can write "Portland" so well was an added incentive.

Clearly my biases kept me interested in the book.
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