Chelsea Cain’s Kill You Twice follows the female serial killer Gretchen Lowell and her bizarre relationship with Archie Sheridan, the detective heading the task force that previously captured her. Cain really plays with the serial killer archetype by making her a beautiful, glamorous woman who is always several steps ahead of the police.
This is the 5th novel in this series and I haven’t read them all so I won’t do a comparison. In “Kill You Twice” Cain does a fantastic job of creating a sense of unease in the reader. Having followed Sheridan around and witnessing how his distrust manifests itself, I found myself being suspicious of all characters in the novel. It is a world where the truth is missing and killers lurk around every corner. The pace dipped in the middle of the novel, but picked up nicely and then and I couldn’t do anything until I finished it.
Even with Gretchen locked up in the Oregon State Hospital, when a serial killer starts a spree in Portland, Susan Ward a local journalist meets with Gretchen who gives her information on her first kill. While trying to dig up the story, Susan and Sheridan uncover unknown connections in Gretchen’s mysterious past.
There are some gruesome scenes in this novel, but it is about a serial killer so its to be expected. It may be sexist, but the scenes were more shocking for me because they were committed by a woman. Cain likes to play with our expectations of who is good and how external appearances can affect perceptions. When Gretchen is drugged and restrained in the hospital, Sheridan has to fight his perceptions that she is less dangerous now that she looks so helpless. He doesn’t let his guard down and Cain never allows the reader to either.
I love that Cain captures the feel of Portland and includes local history or news stories as part of the backdrop which is a fun bonus to reading a Portland writer.
Read March 2013