One Kick (Kick Lannigan #1) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: August 12, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

Review –

Chelsea Cain’s new book, One Kick, is the  start of another series that intermingles victimization and romance. But this one is capable of reaching a much broader audience because it is far less gruesome than the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series. True, it’s about pedophilia and child pornography. But the details are not described, except as vague memories that haunt the title character, Kick Lannigan.

When we first meet Kick, she’s only ten years old  and seems to be named Beth. She also seems to be living with her mother and father. But an F.B.I. raid quickly interrupts their quiet domesticity, and it is revealed that “Beth” is a kidnapping victim. Her real name was something else, but her captors have locked her in a basement room and forced her to star in porn films. When Kick (the toughest adult name she can give herself) is twenty-one, and the book’s main action unfolds, she’s told that “the Beth Movies are still the most downloaded child pornography on the Internet.”

Kick bears the burden of having followed the exact instructions of her fake father, Mel, when the F.B.I. raided the house. She went to the computer and nuked Mel’s database, which could have been vitally important to agents trying to crack down on child pornographers and kidnappers.

“All you had to do was nothing,” she is told by John Bishop, an alluringly tough, secretive, so-called former weapons dealer who turns up in Kick’s living room one day and becomes the series’s romantic male lead, partly because he has absolutely no romantic interest in Kick. He just commandeers her because he works for a very rich somebody who wants the kidnappers caught. And Kick has dedicated her life to the same cause.

Kick is a fighter, albeit a wounded one, so she’s drawn to the worst kinds of crises she can face. And her nearest and dearest are in constant jeopardy because of the kind of slime in which she’s chosen to reimmerse herself.

One of the book’s toughest scenes takes Kick to prison, where Mel lies mortally ill and perhaps ready for a confession about a ring of perverts much more savage than he is. Despite everything, he seems really to have loved this girl, and her reactions are no less complicated.

In Heartsick, Gretchen asked: “Do you know what’s more intimate than sex? Violence.” And that book went on to prove her point. One Kick has a similar way of mixing brutality and eroticism, though it is very, very careful not to exploit the pedophilia angle. But Kick becomes curious about Bishop’s effect on women: They flirt with him tirelessly, he pays little attention, and yet Kick finds them with him early in the morning.

The ending was a surprise for me and their was a cliffhanger at the VERY end, leaving room for a sequel,BUT, I looked ahead and found that the second book, Kick Back, was not published . Here’s why:

“Please Note: this novel has no planned publish date.

As per Chelsea’s blog: “Simon and Schuster published ONE KICK. Then, about the time I was supposed to turn in KICK BACK (and after S&S had posted the cover of KICK BACK and started taking pre-orders), my editor left S&S to go to Putnam. And I went with her. These things happen. S&S will not be publishing KICK BACK. Ever. I hope that Putnam will publish KICK BACK one day.”

Evidentially Putnam has decided NOT to published Kick Back or any other books in the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series because it has been YEARS so Ms. Cain has gone on to write YA Graphic Novels that have been published by Marvel but I am not a graphic novel fan.

It is really a shame too because this was a fantastic book and I gave it five stars !!!!!!

 

 

Let Me Go(Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #6) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Archie Sheridan is about to receive a birthday present from the last person he ever wants to see again: Gretchen Lowell.

The investigation into Jack Reynolds’s drug enterprise is heating up and has Archie heading off to attend a masked Halloween party on Jack Reynolds’s island, where Susan is a reluctant guest. But the next morning one of the guests is found murdered, and Archie quickly realizes that nothing is what it seems. Only one thing is clear: Gretchen is back, and she’s been closer than anyone thinks. On Halloween Eve, with time running out, Archie will have to risk everything, and choose wisely whom to trust, if he and his loved ones are going to live through the night.

Review –

Say what you will about mobster Jack Reynolds: The man knows how to throw a pre-Halloween party. The food and drink are endless; the attendees include 500 masked guests; security has been outsourced to a team of military contractors.

Not only is Archie reluctantly in attendance, but the host, unaware that his son Leo is secretly working undercover for the DEA, virtually kidnaps Leo’s girlfriend, reporter Susan Ward, and has her driven to his private island for the party and coiffed and costumed by a helpful stripper when she arrives.

The morning after the festivities, Archie wakes up in the mud with a blond hair in his mouth, and an uninvited guest, coed Lisa Watson, is found slashed to death. Both disruptions strongly suggest the presence of Gretchen among the masked revelers, even though Archie assures Susan that “it’s been fourteen months since she killed recreationally.” And Gretchen remains offstage for most of this installment—allowing Archie free rein to celebrate his birthday in handcuffs as his downstairs neighbor Rachel entertains him with a lap dance—until Archie’s lover/nemesis/torturer turns up at the eleventh hour to end some lives, save others and complain, “Do I have to do everything myself?” The murder and its solution take a back seat to the continuing saga of Archie’s affair with the sociopath.

At the end of the book Gretchen is still on the loose and Archie and Susan are in the hospital, Susan from her wounds and injuries inflicted by Lisa Watson’s true killer  and Archie from a near fatal gun shot wound to the stomach from a security man. They have a tender moment and then end up in Archie’s bed because Susan can’t keep her eyes open. (They didn’t hook-up but this is better than nothing – I still have high hopes for them)

I can’t believe Chelsea Cain stopped writing “The Beauty Killer” series and started “The Kick Lannigan” series. I desperately need more Archie Sheridan!!!

Five stars!

 

Kill You Twice (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #5) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: August 7, 2012

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Nothing makes Portland detective Archie Sheridan happier than knowing that Gretchen Lowell—the serial killer whose stunning beauty is belied by the gruesome murders she’s committed—is locked away in a psych ward. Archie can finally heal from the near-fatal physical and emotional wounds she’s inflicted on him and start moving on with his life.

To this end, Archie throws himself into the latest case to come across his desk: A cyclist has discovered a corpse in Mount Tabor Park on the eastern side of Portland. The man was gagged, skinned, and found hanging by his wrists from a tree. It’s the work of a killer bold and clever enough to torture his victim for hours on a sunny summer morning in a big public park and yet leave no trace.

And then Archie gets a message he can’t ignore—Gretchen claims to have inside knowledge about this grisly murder. Archie finally agrees to visit Gretchen, because he can’t risk losing his only lead in the case. At least, that’s what he tells himself . . . but the ties between Archie and Gretchen have always been stronger, deeper, and more complex than he’s willing to admit, even to himself. What game is she playing this time? And even more frightening, what long-hidden secrets from Gretchen’s past has been dredged up that someone would kill to protect?

Review –

Despite being locked away in the Oregon State Hospital, serial killer Gretchen Lowell still looms large in Detective Archie Sheridan’s life in this installment by bestselling author, Chelsea Cain, and is an utterly engrossing  thriller.  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, ( I secretly wish that she and Archie will eventually hook up) 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.

Although he swears that he’s not going to see his murderous ex-lover again, Archie’s lured back into contact with her when Gretchen’s interview with Susan Ward, the newspaper reporter whose life Archie saved, concludes its grueling description of Gretchen’s very first murder, the slaughter 16 years ago of James Beaton, with an urgent plea Susan passes on to Archie: “Children are going to die….You have to find the flash drive.” Could one of those children be Pearl Clinton, who’d been staying at the Life Works Center before she disappeared? How much of what Gretchen says can be trusted? Here’s a hint – ZERO!!!!!

This is one of my FAVORITE series and every one is better than the next. I just wish the author hadn’t stopped writing the series when she did. I’m listening to the final book in the series now and it was published in 2013, then she started a new series. The nerve of some authors, doesn’t she know I’m waiting with bated breath for more on Archie and the “Beauty Killer”?  I can’t stand it!!!!!

 

The Night Season (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #4) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: March 1, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

He captured the Beauty Killer, one of the most deranged serial killers in the country. Now, Portland police detective Archie Sheridan faces a different kind of killer – a brutal rain season that has flooded the Willamette River, claiming several lives. As water levels rise, so does the fear. Because some of the victims didn’t drown;they were murdered.

The first body contains a rare poison. Three others prove to be murders as well. And with each gruesome discovery the medical examiner uncovers, Archie begins to realize he has not escaped his nightmares, even with his deadliest enemy behind bars. The flood has washed up old skeletons from the past. And a ruthless new serial killer rules the night…

Review –

Archie is finally free, at least physically, of his former lover and crazed torturer, Gretchen Lowell, The Beauty Killer,who’s behind bars, Portland Detective Archie Sheridan vies with a slightly more mundane serial killer in Cain’s latest installment in the series.

This time the villain is a  largely unseen male menace. Accompanied by a nine-year-old boy who was stolen from his parents 18 months ago, this serial killer carries around small, blue-ringed octopuses in baggies,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus

subjects his victims to their poisonous bites and tosses the corpses in the river.

The killings begin after the discovery of a skeleton points back to the Vanport flood of 1948, which wiped out an entire public-housing project and claimed the lives of many residents who were tardily warned by authorities of the impending disaster. Sixty-two years later, with the overflowing Willamette River about to wreak havoc on Portland, two people close to the still-shaky Sheridan are touched by the octopus killer’s evil: Henry Sobol, a fellow cop, and Susan Ward, a hungry crime columnist with wild hair. 

The story is deftly handled, the suspense is plentiful and the author’s description of the gloomy atmosphere and Portland setting is superb. Gretchen fans will be pleased when she shows up at the end and with a glance tells us we haven’t seen the last of her.

Excellent read!!!

Evil at Heart (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #3) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Chelsea Cain’s novels featuring Portland detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell have captivated fans through two nail-biting entries, Heartsick and Sweetheart, both of them multi week bestsellers in The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly.

Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she’s more of a cause célèbre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers weekly and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, Portland Herald reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre kind of fan club, which celebrates the number of days she’s been free.

Archie Sheridan hunted her for a decade, and after his last ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong, remains hospitalized months later. When they last spoke, they entered a détente of sorts—Archie agreed not to kill himself if she agreed not to kill anyone else. But when a new body is found accompanied by Gretchen’s trademark heart, all bets are off and Archie is forced back into action. Has the Beauty Killer returned to her gruesome ways, or has the cult surrounding her created a whole new evil?

Review –

“She’s extracted his spleen, hammered nails into his chest, broken his ribs, whittled away at him with an X-Acto knife, but these and an array of other scarifications, emotional as well as physical, have not dampened Archie’s ardor. He remains crazy about Gretchen Lowell, aka the Beauty Killer. And crazy, too, in the sense that as the result of her ministrations, he currently resides in Portland, Ore.’s Providence Medical Center, termed by Archie “the loony bin.”

As for Gretchen, until recently she’s been residing in the slammer, where Archie helped put her. Having busted out, however, she’s up to her old tricks—murdering with undiminished enthusiasm, leaving her signature heart carved into the torsos of her victims, usually before they’re dead.

Seldom indeed, when in the hands of Gretchen the grotesque, does anyone die in a hurry. And now, perversely, she’s become a media darling. Her glam photographs seem omnipresent. She sells newspapers, she boosts ratings, she has fan clubs: global constituencies, gleefully marking the days their hero has been able to elude slew-footed police forces—76 and counting. So suddenly the question takes on an unsettling nuance. Is it Gretchen and Gretchen alone who’s been dismembering and disemboweling? Or has she been joined by copycats?

It’s enough to get Archie into his clothes, out of the hospital and back into bossing his catch-Gretchen task force, the trauma of it all having driven him sane.” from Kirkus Review

The reader or listener never does find out for sure if Gretchen is or is not responsible for the latest killings but in my mind she was.

Looking forward to the next installment.

 

Sweetheart (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #2) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: September 2, 2008

Format: Audio/OverDrive

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. He’s returned home to his ex-wife and their two children. 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; but secretly, Archie is relieved. He knows he’s the only one who can capture Gretchen and now he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all. Even if it means becoming her last victim!

Review –

In Sweetheart Archie’s best friend and detective, Henry, as well as his wife step in and stage a whole intervention scene. They are severing all ties between Archie and Gretchen. Henry explains that they are moving her to a place far out of his reach and banning all phone calls and visits with her. It doesn’t matter that every time Archie visits her she gives up another name of another victim. It’s just not worth it anymore.

This novel opens up with the shuffling of transporting Gretchen from one prison to another, in which she escapes. Archie knows she will kill anyone, especially those who are important to Archie. She will kill anyone to get his attention.  She wants him and she will not stop until she has him all to herself. With so many people Archie cares for there are a lot of people she can come after to gain his attention. But Gretchen isn’t playing games anymore. After a few leads that send the detective all over the city yet seem to get them nowhere to finding her, Gretchen comes directly for Archie and he goes to her willingly.

With Archie missing, our favorite reporter Susan Ward is back in action. Of course, she never left the action of trying to find the real scoop on the U.S. senator who seduced his children’s babysitter a decade ago. Only he’s dead and the babysitter is too. Susan worries her story is long gone? Until she finds a connection between the dead bodies that seem to be popping up everywhere and the sex scandal? Working with Henry trying to find Archie, Susan struggles with who to trust with the clues that she keeps uncovering about the other case she is working on.

The story goes back and forth between Archie’s relationship with his captor and Susan’s struggle to piece together all the parts of more than one head-scratching case.  I found the book a bit sluggish at times and felt that Cain was not doing as great a job at holding my attention with this installment of her Gretchen Lowell series.  The tension in this book was not up to par compared to her first book and the gory details of the previous book was traded for some lewd scenes between Archie and Gretchen ( we find out that Archie and Gretchen were having an affair before she kidnapped and tortured him and no one know but just the two of them.). Cain does however utilize the multiple plots going on in the book quite well and is easily switched from one to the other. I give kudos to Cain for incorporating the psychological complexities to the relationship between Archie and Gretchen as well as keeping the main characters busy with moving the storyline in the right direction. Though I feel the book could have been a wee bit better it was still a page turner (Archie tries to commit suicide while handcuffing Gretchen to the stairs in a cabin in the middle of a wild fire) for the most part.  It’s believable or as believable as one who’s never experienced a psycho serial killer can be and I am totally looking forward to the third installment, Evil at Heart.  I have it on hold on OverDrive but there are two people ahead of me.

Excellent read!

 

 

Heartsick (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #1) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: September 4, 2007

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him she eventually saved his physical life by calling 911 and turning herself in, but Archie’s existence has been fundamentally ruined. Although Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, Archie is in a prison of another kind—addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie’s a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she’s right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth—he can’t stay away.
When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.
Review –
This story is very sick and twisted, which makes or an EXCELLENT read.
Archie Sheridan is on so many pills for the pain and suffering of being kidnapped and tortured for ten days (she set a trap for him and Gretchen drove nails into Archie’s ribs, removed his spleen while he was awake, feed him handfuls of pills, carved on his torso and made him drink drain cleaner, just to name of few of her tricks and against rather steep odds Archie fell madly in love with her) by the beautiful serial killer, Gretchen Lowell but he has been called back from medical leave to lead a new task force and try to catch a new serial killer, dubbed the After School Strangler. Add in Susan Ward, whose father died when she was 14.  She’s a  pink haired reporter doing a piece on Archie, since he is a celebrity of sorts and as a freshman at Cleveland High, where one of the recent victims attended school, she may or may not have had an inappropriate sexual relationship with her drama teacher. Archie realizes almost too late that Gretchen has actually been setting her own trap, and Susan is the intended victim.
I won’t say who the After School Strangler turns out to be but as the story progresses it’s not hard to predict the outcome and that’s okay because there’s MUCH more to the book than the solving of the current crime. The characters run the show in Heartsick, which refers to the heart carved on Archie’s chest by Gretchen, and it’s much more satisfying to learn what happens to them AFTER the crime has been solved. 
Archie decides to quit seeing Gretchen on Sundays and try to reunite with his family and Susan tries to be a better reporter.
Fans of the serial killer genre, crime/mystery fiction readers and anyone who appreciates a first-rate suspense thriller are gonna eat this book up and since Heartsick is just the first in a whole series of Gretchen Lowell/Archie Sheridan novels, the fun’s just getting started.  
I have already started the second in the series called Sweetheart and can’t wait to see what Gretchen has up her sleeve for Archie this time around.
 Five stars!!!!!