Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Long Con Week 44 - Sweetheart

Portland detective Archie Sheridan, the former head of the Beauty Killer Task Force, hunted Gretchen Lowell for years before she kidnapped him, tortured him, and then let him go. Now that she is behind bars, Archie is finally piecing his life back together.  But no matter how hard Archie tries, he just can't stop thinking about Gretchen...

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the first corpse he discovered there a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer's first victim, and Archie's first case.  Then, the unthinkable happens: Gretchen escapes from prison, and once the news breaks, all of Portland goes on high alert.  Archie knows he's the only one who can capture Gretchen - and now he has a plan.  Even if it means becoming her last victim...

This is my second go round with Chelsea Cain, and I can freely admit that she scares the bejeezus out of me.  Forget Hannibal Lecter, Gretchen Lowell would emasculate him.

But I'm not going to talk only of fear today.  While Gretchen was the "boogyman" in Heartsick, she spent the entire novel safe behind bars.  She could get to him emotionally, but he was more of a danger to himself than she was.  In Sweetheart, the shark is out of her cage, and constantly in motion.

We know her intentions.  It should come as no surprise that once she is out, Archie is going to get a phone call.  We know it, the cops know it, his wife even knows it.  And Archie definitely knows it.  He's dying for it. That brings us to the word of the day.


There are things we want.  A better car.  A better job.  That new Humphrey Bogart box set.  Sex with an impossibly hot mate.  And then there a the things we need.  Air, water, food, shelter, sex with an impossibly hot mate.

One list provides us with the basics of life; what it takes to get us out of bed and make it through the day.  The other makes life worth living.  It's okay to want something, set a goal, achieve, rah rah rah, accomplishment.  But when want turns to need, obsession isn't far behind.

Archie needs Gretchen in his life.  He may be addicted to a multitude of pills, but it's her that he absolutely needs.  He needs to think about her, to talk about her, and more distressingly, be with her.  His obsession has gone beyond the run of the mill school boy crush on the unapproachable beautiful schoolyard multi-murdering sociopath.  Without her, he feels his life might not be worth living.

Which is exactly how she wants it.  She's got unfinished plans for him, and knowing all that she's done to him through two books, it's impossible to figure out what she might have in store for him in the third.  She's tortured him, cut out organs, even had sex with him.  But now that he's tried to kill her, albeit passively, all rules might be thrown out the window.

The worst thing we ever receive might be exactly what we hoped for.

Chelsea Cain understands this, and that's why she terrifies me.

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