[Book Review] Chelsea Cain’s ‘Kill You Twice’

I’m sure plenty of our readers are familiar with Chelsea Cain’s series of gory psychological thrillers featuring pill-popping detective Archie Sheridan and seductive serial killer Gretchen Lowell. Sadly, I was late to the party. After stumbling across a few of her short stories earlier this year, I finally sought out Cain’s wickedly addictive series. Meanwhile, a rabid fan base has been soaking up Cain’s novels since 2008, when the first book in the series, Heartsick, was released. Cable station FX, knowing a hot commodity when they see it, recently began developing a television series based on the Sheridan/Lowell novels. The fifth book in the series, Kill You Twice, was released on August 7 from Minotaur Books. I tore through it like butter. Existing fans will not be disappointed, and new fans…well, now you’ve got another entry to look forward to. The full review follows.

Four years ago, psychiatrist Gretchen Lowell kidnapped detective Archie Sheridan. A serial killer responsible for over 200 murders, Gretchen tortured Archie, killed him, resuscitated him, and then turned herself in to the authorities. And while Archie has attempted to return to life as a police detective, he still bears the scars of the ordeal…scars both physical and mental. He and Gretchen share a link that cannot be denied, no matter how hard Archie tries.

Kill You Twice takes place three months after 2011‘s The Night Season, with Archie investigating a skinned body found hanging from a tree in a public park. After another body is found near a local landmark, this one charred to a crisp, Archie begins to suspect may have another serial killer on his hands. When additional clues indicate the work of a possible Gretchen Lowell copycat killer, he’s forced to turn to his imprisoned arch-nemesis for guidance.

While it’s true that the twisted central relationship in Kill You Twice bears more than a passing resemblance to Silence of the Lambs, the air between Agent Starling and Dr. Lector never crackled with the caliber of psycho-sexual tension shared by Archie and Gretchen (with the exception of the last few chapters of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal, I suppose). Archie’s strain of Stockholm Syndrome has a strangely sexual bent, and the flirty, psychotic Gretchen takes full advantage of his weakness. Cain has successfully milked this sick, disturbing dynamic for most of the series, and Kill You Twice only adds new layers to the madness. At the same time, Cain manages to pay off a couple of lingering subplots, further cementing her stature as one of the best series writers around.

8 out of 10 Skulls

 
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