Chelsea Cain once again delivers! Kill You Twice is the fifth installment in the Sheridan/Lowell serial killer series and honestly I do believe this is the best of the series. If you haven’t read the books start with Heartsick as this really isn’t a stand alone. For that you’d have to read The Night Season (book 4).
Archie Sheridan, detective for the Portland, Oregon police department, is back and this time he has another murder to solve. When a body is found gagged, skinned and tied to a tree he knows this isn’t an ordinary killer he’s looking for. So when Gretchen Lowell, the “Beauty Killer,” calls him with information regarding the latest murder, Archie has to begin to distinguish what the truth is and it leaves us all a little bit shocked. Cain isn’t for the faint of heart and if readers thought book 3, Evil at Heart, was gruesome, Kill You Twice will have you wincing and wishing you hadn’t eaten that burrito before you began to read. Book 5 is perhaps the goriest of the series, however; it’s part of the plot as well as that of the psychopaths Archie has to deal with.
Cain isn’t one of those authors who feeds you character information right off the back. She makes you dig for it and in many ways we become the detectives. Just like Archie we readers aren’t sure what to make of Gretchen and her past. Should we believe what comes out her mouth? Most importantly does Archie believe it?
I won’t go into many details regarding the book for fear of spoilers, but you can read the book blurb here. Kill You Twice is well plotted with fully developed characters. The original gang is back including our favorite snoop / journalist Susan Ward and her hippie mother, Bliss. Cain does introduce a new character where Henry (Archie’s partner) states, “Susan’s going to hate her,” and it begs the question of who is this mysterious neighbor of Archie’s? Is she one of Gretchen’s pawns and if so where does that leave us with Archie?
One of the complaints I keep hearing about with regards to Gretchen is that this can’t be the only serial killer Archie has to deal with. Again I refer readers to Gretchen’s use of apprentices and remember she’s been attributed to many more murders than she took credit for (part of her cat chases mouse routine). It will be interesting to see how Cain develops her series outside Gretchen Lowell, however; I truly believe you can’t have Archie without Gretchen. One of the most important scenes in Kill You Twice is between Susan and Archie and he admits “he’s still not over her.” Readers of the series will know what he is referring to (book 3: Evil at Heart and his grand confession) and in many ways we begin to understand his torture. This is man who was cut open and left with horrible scars on his chest and for the rest of his life he’ll never be free of Gretchen.
Cain leaves us always wanting more, but also asking the question: How much more torture (emotionally and physically) can Archie handle?