Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kill You Twice

Archie Sheridan has been living a Gretchen Lowell free life while she is locked in a mental institution. For years after she tortured him, almost killed him, and then saved him, Archie's life has revolved around her and been basically ruined as a result. Now, he no longer pops Vicodin like they were candy and has begun to move on and heal emotionally away from her manipulation. He throws himself into solving a new case involving a serial killer who tortures the victims and leaves them in very public places, leaving no traces behind. With a string of victims with no real leads, Archie can no longer ignore Gretchen when she says she knows something about the current killings. Although he's treading carefully, she can be very manipulative and dangerous even drugged up and restrained in a mental institution. Can she actually help in the case or does she just aim to destroy Archie again? Will Archie find the killer before he/she kills again?

Ever since Heartsick, the first book in the series, I have found Gretchen Lowell to be one of the most magnetic and interesting antagonists in literature and one of the only fictional female serial killers. Each book uncovered a little more about her, mostly in the context of her relationship with Archie. The fourth book in the series, The Night Season, had only the barest mention of her character. I understood that Gretchen isn't the whole series and maybe Chelsea Cain wanted to move away from her and make Archie stand alone. I couldn't help but be a tiny bit disappointed. It is so nice to have Gretchen back in  a way we have never seen her. Kill You Twice delves into part of her origin story. Not her childhood or her biological family, but her inception as a serial killer in her teenage years, the start of the Beauty Killer. In the present, she has lost her infamous beauty and remains incapacitated by medication, which is pure torture for her as it takes away the some of her essential tools of manipulation. Seemingly desperate and less possessed of her mental faculties, Gretchen can still has that magnetic personality that both draws in and repels the reader. Like Archie, I have a love/hate relationship with Gretchen. I love her deeply twisted mind and her glee for what she does, but I also want her to be punished for what she has done. It allows me to understand her hold over Archie and his even more complex feelings about her. The conclusion leaves the story open to peel away more layers of the the mystery that is Gretchen.

The other characters are engaging and interesting in their own ways. Archie is much different than his Gretchen-obsessed self. He has completely cut her out of his life at this point and has started to form and maintain much more healthy relationships with people. Even when he eventually interacts with her, he holds his own much better, not allowing himself to be manipulated by her despite his conflicted feelings. Susan Ward of the ever changing hair is an awesome character as well with a spunky attitude and killer fashion sense. She pieces together some essential aspects of the case despite Archie's reluctance to involve her in another dangerous case. The new serial killer is brutal and interesting, bringing a religious dimension to the murders.

I absolutely love this entire series. I think this book is actually a teensy bit better than Heartsick, my previous favorite and the first book. I love all the characters and enjoy seeing them develop throughout each installment. I can't wait for the next book in the series and what the future holds of Gretchen and Archie.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

** This book comes out August 7. Check it out or preorder it here! **

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