Evil at Heart (Hardcover) -- signed or inscribed
*Starred Review* After his last encounter with bewitching serial killer Gretchen Lowell (Sweetheart, 2008), Portland, Oregon, police detective Archie Sheridan checked himself into a mental hospital. And why not? The man has suffered enough at Gretchen's beautiful but deadly hands. Lets recap: first she tortured him unmercifully before inexplicably letting him live (Heartsick, 2007); then, after escaping from prison, she drew him into her web again, seduced him, and sliced his jugular vein, not quite badly enough to kill him.
But, of course, Gretchen isn't through with Archie. When bodies start turning up around Portland, usually in locations where Gretchen has plied her trade in the past, Archie's police colleagues come calling at the loony bin: they need his help if they are to have any chance at catching the Beauty Killer this time. But is Gretchen really back, or has she spawned a generation of copycats?
...Cain packs plenty of surprises for us along the way, but don't panic: it isn't all gore. Cain continues to display her remarkable ability to probe the psyches of her characters the way Gretchen probes our squishy parts. She's no slouch at narrative strategy, either.
Remarkably, both Gretchen and Archie are offstage more than on this time around, but that proves a clever ploy, both because it heightens our anticipation for the inevitable confrontation and because it gives more screen time to punky, spunky reporter Susan Ward, whose charisma demands a starring role eventually.
Popular entertainment--the kind that mixes crime, horror, and even a little black comedy--just doesn't get much better than this. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)