The most overlooked writer in the field of mystery/thrillers is Chelsea Cain. This talented writer creates stories that are razor-sharp in their delivery and heart stopping in their presentation. All of her novels focus on Portland Detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell. The relationship between these two people defies logic and comprehension, but followers of Cain's stories know what basic needs keep them in contact with each other.
In Cain's latest novel Kill You Twice Archie is back at work and Gretchen is locked up in a psych ward. It seems this time her luck has run out and she will be kept away from society for the duration of her life. Archie is still reminded of her every time he looks at the scars that criss-cross his body. In the past Gretchen had him at her mercy and tortured him to the brink of death. Still she never crossed that line and still maintains her affection for him.
For Archie, his relationship with Gretchen has not only scarred his body but also his life. His best friends are his co-workers Henry Sobol and Claire Masland. Henry is the only person in whom Archie intentionally confides; however reporter Susan Ward is able to get some information out of Archie that he doesn't intend to release. Archie trusts Susan but he doesn't like opening up to a reporter.
With Gretchen locked up things should be a little more peaceful in Portland, but that is not the case. Archie is called to the scene of a new murder, and shortly thereafter another murder. Both of these have some of Gretchen's signature elements. When Gretchen is questioned about the new murders she says a copycat by the name of Ryan Motley is committing the crimes. But is it a copycat or someone Gretchen is controlling from her hospital room?
The suspense in Kill You Twice, as in all of Cain's four previous novels, never lets up. It is intense and confounding. You search the words of the book for an explanation but Cain only lets a few bits of relevant information slip into the pages, and that is purely on her timetable.
Each of Cain's novels stand alone but it is a fact the reader would enjoy and appreciate each one more if he/she had read the previous stories. There is so much about the relationship between Archie and Gretchen that is not repeated in each successive novel. Theirs is a twisted and unusual relationship that has to be studied in order to be somewhat understood.
Cain is a writer whose novels are quickly reaching the level of excellence you find in the writings of Jeffery Deaver and Karin Slaughter. She isn't quite there yet but her talent is on the rise. Kill You Twice is one of her best efforts.
Kill You Twice is published by Minotaur Books. It contains 326 pages and sells for $25.99.
Jackie K Cooper