(Starred review.)Despite being locked away in the Oregon State Hospital, serial killer Gretchen Lowell still looms large in Det. Archie Sheridan’s life in bestseller Cain’s utterly engrossing fifth thriller featuring the pair (after 2011’s The Night Season). When Gretchen claims that the Portland police detective’s two latest murder victims—one found flayed in a local park and another burned to a crisp atop the iconic city sign—are the work of killer Ryan Motley, Archie knows better than to take Gretchen at her word, but he’s intrigued when she mentions having a child, a new twist. Meanwhile, Susan Ward, now working as a freelance reporter, is following both the current murder case and the developing situation with Gretchen, going so far as to interview her at the state hospital, where Gretchen divulges tidbits of her early life, previously uncharted territory. That blood oozes off practically every page is never in doubt. But neither is Cain’s skill in creating riveting character drama between two damaged souls.
She's back. Gretchen Lowell, the exquisitely beautiful serial killer who has held readers in thrall, returns in the fifth installment (after The Night Season) of this popular series. Though Gretchen is locked up, she's still haunting Archie Sheridan, the detective she tortured and almost killed. Archie is working on his latest grisly murder case when Susan Ward, a journalist and sometimes friend, calls. She's been in touch with Gretchen, who claims a guy named Ryan Motley is the killer Archie seeks. She also dangles another clue, a victim whom the cops know nothing about. Verdict: Series fans will enjoy this latest book as they learn more about Gretchen. While still cagey and dangerous, Gretchen's persona deepens as Cain reveals details about her early life and relationships. Archie, still damaged by her influence, shows glimmers of hope that he may be able to move on to a new life where he has the power. A sure bet for vacation reads. —Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH
(Starred review.) Utterly fresh and compelling. . .Cain hits the narrative throttle with all cylinders firing. Like the best thriller writers, though, she knows how to ease off the throttle, too, making room for subtle and satisfying character interplay but at the same time building tension as we wait for the narrative to burst into overdrive once again. Masterful on every level.
A fourth match—a fifth, if you count The Night Season (2011), in which she's limited to a cameo—between Gretchen Lowell, the Beauty Killer, and Archie Sheridan, the Portland cop who alternates between locking her up and having sex with her. Gretchen claims over 200 murder victims, but how could she have killed Jake Kelly, the philanthropist who volunteered at the Life Works Center for Young Women? ...Cain's abiding determination to outdo the suspense, plot twists and gore of each previous outing is both perverse and awe-inspiring.
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