Shea's Reviews > Heartsick

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
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's review
Oct 07, 2007

liked it

I’ve seen reviews of this novel ranging from calling it "the thriller of the year" to "not a very suspenseful read". For me, both seemed to paradoxically be true. At it’s core, it is a decent psychological thriller centering around Detective Archie Sheridan who was captured by a female serial killer, and is forced back onto the job two years afterwards to catch another serial killer. Cain does not follow a strict chronological sequence in her storytelling, and there are two major stories at play here: 1) Sheridan’s experiences and thoughts while in captivity of a serial killer and 2) his struggle to find another serial killer two years later while operating in a majorly dysfunctional manner as a result of his torture and eventual release while in captivity. Cain intersperses scenes from the first story into the second (main) story throughout the novel, and she switches back and forth whenever Sheridan experiences a heightened level of stress or turmoil during his search for the current serial killer.

If that is not enough, Cain sets the story in Portland during the late winter/early spring time period. This is something that I’m sure was more than intentional as she not so subtly alters the weather to reflect what Sheridan is thinking and how is feeling during the investigation and his subsequent flashbacks. While it seems like this could be an all too obvious scene tactic, it actually does not backfire on Cain and works very well throughout the novel.

While the plot was certainly one of the more original ones I’ve seen in a while, I figured out the ending about two thirds of the way through it (i.e. who the killer was and how each main character fit into the "big picture"), but that could just be a product of my line of thinking and/or current studies. ;) I finished the novel in a hurry once I thought I had it figured out to see whether I was correct in my predictions hoping that I had been led astray and there was actually a big surprise in store for me at the end. There wasn’t, and while that did detract from my overall impressions of the story, I can still recognize the decent effort Cain made to prevent people like myself from accurately predicting the ending.
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