Ray Palen's Reviews > Kill You Twice

Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain
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Aug 08, 2012

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Read from August 08 to 14, 2012

Over the course of four novels author Chelsea Cain has done something thrilling and unique with the serial killer genre. She broke tradition by making the serial killer and villain of the series --- gasp --- a female!

Gretchen Lowell is the female counter-part of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter, complete with the genius-level I.Q. and near indestructible make-up. She has targeted, among others, Detective Archie Sheridan. Much like the afore-mentioned Hannibal Lecter and his ‘muse’ Clarice Starling, Gretchen Lowell continues to taunt and toy with the damaged hero, Archie Sheridan, and finds it almost unheard of to ever consider ending his life.

Now, four novels into the series, I’m betting Archie Sheridan wished she would! The first two books in this series, HEARTSICK and SWEETHEART are sheer brilliance and Sheridan is obsessed with taking down the woman who tortured and nearly killed him. In the third novel, EVIL AT HEART, the roles change and Archie actually uses the now imprisoned Gretchen to help him stop another killer and kidnapper.

With the release of her latest novel, KILL YOU TWICE, the beleaguered Archie is a mere shell of himself and barely recognizable from the first two novels. Gretchen is drugged beyond belief behind bars and all but useless to Archie. Nevertheless, Archie and his partner, Henry, are tasked with stopping another violent killer terrorizing the Portland, Oregon area.

This killer is taking particular pleasure in mistreating his victims --- skinning and burning them alive at times. The only clue Archie is able to glean from Gretchen is a name --- a pseudonym for a man called Colin Beaton. Colin shares a past with Gretchen and they both shared foster parents at one point. Archie now realizes the extent of the damaged individual’s psyche that he is up against. Before the reader can blink an eye from that revelation --- Gretchen escapes from prison.

The question for Archie becomes --- is Gretchen going to help him catch and stop Colin or is she planning to join up with her former foster bro and join him in his sick killing spree? To make matters worse, Colin believes he is on a spiritual mission and this makes him doubly difficult to stop. As with all Chelsea Cain novels, all the peripheral characters play a role and the surprises do not stop as each of their individual agendas is revealed.

On its’ own merit, KILL YOU TWICE is a solid thriller and above-average for the serial killer genre. Having read all four of the novels in the Archie/Gretchen series, I am beginning to tire of the relationship and wish Cain would write a stand-alone novel or spin the series into a completely different direction. Besides, there’s not much left of Archie either mentally or physically for Gretchen to do damage to. Time to move on!

Reviewed by Ray Palen for New Mystery Reader

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