Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sweetheart: Thriller set in Portland (book #2 in series)

Sweetheart (Gretchen Lowell, #2)Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading Chelsea Cain's debut thriller novel, "Heartsick," I didn't expect to read her next book. That was before I heard her speak at the Willamette Writers' annual banquet this summer. She spoke about how she got started writing thrillers, and I found her to be a compelling, engaging, and funny speaker.

Cain has grown in her writing since "Heartsick." I found this book difficult to put down, a sign of a good thriller. I don't read very many thrillers, so I'm not an experienced critic of them.

I continue to enjoy the Portland setting of Cain's novels, although some things about them bother me...such as calling the Portland daily the "Herald" instead of the "Oregonian." (I'm sure there's a reason for this, as Cain used to write for the Oregonian.) Also, her protagonist Archie supposedly lives in Hillsboro, yet Susan and Claire race down I-205 after leaving his house? Also, many of the plot elements are highly implausible (which I suppose is normal with thrillers). I understand that Gretchen is a femme fatale who could make men do all sorts of things for her...but how could she be so well equipped with clothing, whiskey, medication, cell phone, gun, etc., after escaping from prison?

The relationship between Archie and Gretchen is sick, and I cannot understand or relate to it. Archie is completely self-destructive because of what Gretchen did--and continues to do--to him. He is completely obsessed with this toxic woman. Although this book was good, I find that the books I truly love and that really stick with me are the ones in which I can relate in some way to the characters. And I can't really relate or resonate with any of the characters in these books.

But Cain is a good storyteller, even though the story is disturbing...

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