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Evil At Heart is the third novel from succesful author, Chelsea Cain, and once more deals with ex-Police Detective and former prescription junkie, Archie Sheridan, and the serial killer, Gretchen Lowel, who captured and tortured him before setting him free; provoking classic symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome which have never ever left Archie, even now years after his ordeal.
In the last novel, Gretchen had escaped prison and the pair had come to a bizarre arrangement; she would not kill anybody else as long as Archie did not try to kill himself! Now, Archie is voluntarily spending time in the secure unit of a mental health hospital after attempting to purge his body of drugs and trying to rehabilitate himself to a point where he can again operate in a civilised society! Then a spleen is discovered abandoned in the cubicle of a dirty rest-stop with red hearts graffitied all over the walls and Archie is once more called out to help investigate. Has Gretchen broken her promise or is this the work of a copy-cat? Together with the reporter, Susan Ward, Archie finds himself following all manner of red herrings and false clues as he attempts to unravel the truth. And all the while, Portland has gone Beauty Killer crazy with tour buses, souvenirs and Gretchen's face plastered all over the media!
What could have been a very standard thriller is elevated to higher levels by its attempts to satirise the media in a similar way that Natural Born Killers did upon release! The idea of a seriual killer as celebrity is not too far removed from the truth and merely serves to make this compelling story ever more believable. Once again, Chelsea Cain proves herself to be an excellent writer with a story full of mystery, horror and suspense! The plot keeps you guessing right up until the end and is every bit as good as both her previous two novels! And, once more, you get a few choice snippets of Archie and Gretchen's back-story, filling out the story even more!
By sticking to the same format, the reader is forced to wonder just how much longevity this series has but for now, it is fun while it lasts!! Archie and Gretchen are excellent examples of different ends of the spectrum and their relationship is as fun to follow as it is twisted.
Where the series will go from here is anybody's guess but I, for one, cannot wait for the next book from this author!!