Booklist Reviews 2007 June #1
*Starred Review* It's a long way from a Nancy Drew parody (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, 2005) to one of the most original serial-killer thrillers to appear in several years, but Cain makes the leap unscathed. Throw out all your assumptions about the sameness of serial-killer novels; this one breaks the mold. Yes, the notorious Gretchen Lowell is behind bars throughout the novel (a la Hannibal Lecter), and, yes, she counsels the Portland, Oregon, cop who is chasing a new sociopath, but unlike in Silence of the Lambs, Archie Sheridan, Cain's detective hero, was one of Lowell's victims. (After kidnapping and killing more than 200 people, Lowell captured and tortured Sheridan, then inexplicably let him live.) So two plotlines unfold alternately, each feeding the other: the grisly backstory of what Lowell did to Sheridan ("Whatever you think this is going to be like," she whispers, "it's going to be worse"), and the real-time account of Sheridan's search for a new serial killer who is preying on teenage girls from Portland's high schools. The plots are thickened by costar Susan Ward, a pink-haired, punky reporter, and by Sheridan's addiction to prescription drugs—and his unbreakable emotional attachment to Lowell, his torturer and savior. Cain never misses a beat here, turning the psychological screws ever tighter for both Sheridan and Ward while drawing us deep into the nightmare that lives inside Gretchen Lowell's head. Sheridan will remind thriller fans of Ridley Pearson's Lou Boldt, and Cain's use of Portland as a setting—contrasting the charm of the city against the horror of the crimes—echoes Pearson's similar use of Seattle. But Heartsick is in no way deriviative. This could well be the thriller of the year.
LJ Reviews 2007 May #1
After being kidnapped and tortured by a beautiful serial killer, Detective Archie Sheridan must pull himself together to catch a killer of teenage girls. Cain lives in Portland, OR. The promotion for this much ballyhooed debut starts with a ten-city prepub tour. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
LJ Reviews 2007 August #1
Portland, OR, never felt drearier than it does in this thriller debut. Without a doubt, psychopathic Gretchen Lowell, a convicted serial killer, pulls all the strings from her prison cell. Just consider her current exploitation list: Archie Sheridan, the Vicodin-addicted detective whom she kidnapped and almost killed two years earlier; Susan Ward, the spunky, young newspaper features writer who's attempting to profile Sheridan; and, finally, the current serial killer, who is targeting high school girls and putting the entire city in lockdown mode. Using flashbacks and psychological tension, Cain (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth ) has crafted a gory suspense piece that is absolutely impossible to put down. Sheridan's current case, a hurried analysis of local high school suspects, is almost secondary to the horror of Lowell's personality. Sheridan's suffering makes him an empathetic hero, and Susan's foolish mistakes give the novel its requisite twists. Readers may figure out the "new" killer's identity early on, but Cain never lets up on the pace. Stylistically, this is great stuff for true-crime readers and for those who enjoy Jan Burke's Irene Kelly series. Recommended for all popular collections; expect a series. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 5/1/07; a 200,000 first printing.]—Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA[Page 63]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2007 July #2
In this outstanding thriller, the first in a new series, Cain (Confessions of a Teen Sleuth ) puts a fresh spin on a scenario familiar to fans of Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs . When someone starts dumping the bodies of teenage girls around Portland, Ore., after soaking them in tubs of bleach, Archie Sheridan, a police detective addicted to pain killers, turns for help to Gretchen Lowell, an imprisoned serial killer who once tortured him (the big scar on his chest "was shaped like a heart"). Covering the crimes is reporter Susan Ward, a smart-alecky punk with pink hair and authority issues. The suspense builds as the narrative shifts between Sheridan's new case and his ordeal with Lowell, who in her own way is as memorable a villain as Hannibal Lecter. The damp Portland locale calls to mind the kind of Pacific Northwest darkness associated with Ted Bundy and Kurt Cobain. A vivid literary style lifts this well above the usual run of suspense novels. 200,000 first printing; author tour. (Sept.)[Page 143]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.