She’s baaack…Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful serial killer introduced to us in Chelsea Cain’s first novel; returns in her second, Sweetheart. Gretchen has escaped from prison; Archie Sheridan is still a terrible mess from his first encounter with her and of course, that weird obsessive connection they have still exists.
Sweetheart isn’t quite as gruesome and graphic as Cain’s first novel. There are certain plot devices that work better if we just go with them; Gretchen drives a Jag, with the comment tossed off, that she “had some money set aside”. Hmm…oookay…not sure exactly how a gorgeous serial killer who’s been in prison and just escaped can access funds and go buy a Jag without anyone noticing. But, the author has done a fine job of setting up Gretchen’s ability to manipulate men and get them to do her bidding, so we can assume the same here. Anyway, a woman like Gretchen Lowell would not ever be seen driving a Ford. The plot device at the end, which allowed Archie’s partner and a journalist to locate him, also seemed a little contrived. I was a bit doubtful that a cop would leave such an obscure clue for his partner, and then be so certain that it would be solved. Again, Cain does a tricky two-step around this problem by showing us Archie’s motivation for discovery being delayed. Fancy footwork maybe, but I bought it!
I’m mildly ambivalent about the ending as well. Would I have liked a different ending? Maybe. It might have seemed more logical for the end to be what it was leading to, not what it was. Do I completely understand the ending we’re given? Absolutely. If I had conceived of this terrifically scary, gorgeous, creepy, insane/sane Hannibal Lecter-ish woman, I’d want to keep her around for a few more books as well.
I’m hoping Chelsea Cain is hard at work on book three. I feel like we’re just starting to know her characters and I really want to see where the author is planning on taking them. And maybe someday, a “prequel”?
Sweetheart is available for sale on September 2.