The backstory: Kill You Twice is the fifth novel by Chelsea Cain featuring Gretchen Lowell and Archie Sheridan. My reviews of the previous four: Heartsick, Sweetheart, Evil at Heart, and The Night Season.
The basics: When a grisly murder happens in Portland, incarcerated Gretchen Lowell claims to have inside information on the killer. Does she really? Or is she simply playing mind games with Archie Sheridan again?
My thoughts: After The Night Season, which was a departure for the series, I was curious where Cain would take this newest novel. Those who thought there wasn't enough Gretchen in it will likely be thrilled with her return to co-star in Kill You Twice. The move was mostly successful, but the first half of this novel suffered from too much set up. It was filled with Cain's characteristic grisly details, but the plot struck me as loose and familiar: Archie struggles with normalcy, mysterious woman who looks like Gretchen moves into his building, Gretchen wants Archie to visit her, and people are brutally murdered--can it possibly be Gretchen? It's hard to fault Cain for doing what works, but I feared she really was running out of new takes on these characters and the series was fizzling.
About the midpoint of the book, however, the payoff started to emerge, and I was hooked. Kill You Twice built slowly, but the second half was a fascinating and thrilling ride that leaves no doubt this series is still going strong.
Favorite passage: “Do people not do this here?” she asked. “Go around and meet the neighbors? I’m from San Diego, so if this is weird, tell me, so I don’t continue to make a total idiot of myself.”
“Do people do it in San Diego?” Archie asked.
“No,” Rachel said. “But I thought Portland was friendlier.”
“We are,” Archie said. “But we’re also socially awkward. I think they cancel each other out.”
The verdict: Kill You Twice reinvigorates the series and returns to the tension between Archie and Gretchen. A satisfying second half made up for a slow first half, but ultimately this novel feels more like a transition novel than a stand alone. Even though I just finished this one, I'm already eager to read the next one, so get writing Chelsea Cain.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 337 pages
Publication date: August 7, 2012
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