"We've been down Hannibal Lecter Avenue many times, and these two books shouldn't work...but they do. Chalk it up to excellent writing and Cain's ferocious sense of humor."
--Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly | Top 10 Books of 2008
(HEARTSICK & SWEETHEART)

"Popular entertainment - the kind that mixes crime, horror, and even a little comedy - just doesn’t get much better than this."
--Booklist, STARRED review
(EVIL AT HEART)

Latest News

Look for Let Me Go in paperback April 2014

LET ME GO is out in paperback at the end of April.  So if you're looking for that perfect addition to an Easter basket...

This is what I sound like

Hey.  So I was on a show called Think Out Loud that's broadcast by OPB, our local NPR affiliate.  It's an hour long show.  I actually had to pass a phone interview test to see if I was interesting enough to talk to for an hour.  Luckily, I fooled them into thinking I was.  If you want to listen to the result you can go to this link: http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/northwest-passages-chelsea-cain/ and click on the little "play" icon. 

The New York Times likes THE NIGHT SEASON!

NYTBR (Feb 27)

Portland, Ore., is wet from the start of “The Night Season.” A storm has soaked the city for weeks. Gulls line the roads, blown inland from the sea. The Willamette River surges with debris. Rain cascades from rooftops and clogs the basement drains of the Multnomah County morgue. This Portland is much like the one in Chelsea Cain’s previous novels, but darker, blurred around the edges and sunk under a cloud cover that threatens to engulf it completely.

Into this waterlogged world trudges Cain’s troubled hero, Detective Archie Sheridan, “a stubborn martyr with a white knight complex.” A woman has been found dead, draped atop the riverside merry-go-round. She seems to have drowned, but a tiny puncture on her palm suggests foul play. The two other people who drowned that week bear identical marks. When Archie’s longtime partner, Henry Sobol, lands in the I.C.U. with an unknown toxin in his veins, the case takes on new urgency. Suspended in semiconsciousness, Henry is both silent witness and sole survivor of the murderer’s rite.

By now, Archie (and Cain’s loyal readers, of which there are many) knows the signs of a serial killer all too well. In “Heartsick” and its two sequels, Cain conjured Gretchen Lowell, a blue-eyed psychopath with an endless résumé of gory murders. Archie was Gretchen’s special victim, trapped and tortured after 10 years on her trail, and spared at the 11th hour in a twisted act of mercy. Back in jail, Gretchen has receded to the fringes of the narrative, but her lethal beauty haunts the detective. He fingers the heart-shaped scar she carved into his chest as if it has replaced his own.

The crimes in “The Night Season” are at once less plausible and less deliciously perverse than Gretchen’s drawn-out butcheries. As the hours creep by, the task force discovers the killer’s bizarre, ­aquarium-bound weapon. The motive is murkier. Susan Ward, The Oregon Herald’s neon-haired crime columnist, returns in a central role, shadowing Archie as he makes his sleepless way through the investigation. Despite his half-hearted attempts to shake her off, her dogged detective work proves crucial to the case. “You know how everyone has a tiny talent?” she asks him. “Like parallel parking? Or catching serial killers? Mine is Googling.” Irreverent, vulnerable and sharp, she is as shrewdly drawn as Archie and as interesting to watch. As in the past, she ends up in the thick of things, and the book’s high-octane ending hinges on her resolve.

Cain intercuts her quick-paced chapters, which spin each narrative strand with expert restraint, with brief moments in the murderer’s footsteps. In one early scene, Susan scours the park at night while the killer follows two paces behind, obscured by the darkness beyond her flashlight’s beam. “He could kill her. In a heartbeat,” he thinks. “He would not even break a sweat doing it.” These glimpses of psychosis are unsettling, but they never chill with the force of Gretchen’s ice-blue stare. Like Gretchen, this novel’s cephalopod-obsessed killer wants his victims to experience death — to know it intimately. But there is a motive to his derangement. Perhaps inevitably, Gretchen’s deadly machinations are more frightening for their wanton brand of evil.

Still, the world that Cain creates is as dark and ominous as ever. The novel’s greatest menace is the weather, which transforms Portland’s familiar topography into something less than welcoming. Flooded and obscured by rain, the city becomes wild, unknowable: “The thin wisps of trees lining the sidewalk shuddered, bare-leaved, in the wind. The whole world glistened wet and black, like the Pacific Ocean at night.” When the storm nearly levels its downtown, the sudden shifts in perspective are vertiginous, and thrilling. This is the mood that Cain has mastered: the dread of knowing something is off, but not being able to see it clearly. It is what presses her readers onward, pulses rising along with the waterline.

Zoë Slutzky has written for Bookforum, The Los Angeles Times and Mother Jones.

EVIL AT HEART: the TODAY show, Chicago Sun-Times, NYTBR, and USA Today!

Check out the TODAY show clip here.

Chicago Sun-Times, by Denise I. O'Neal, 10.04.09 -- Cain is among a new breed of women writers stepping way out of the stereotypical female comfort zones of writing purple prose and chick lit, and instead serving up meatier and more gruesome stories.

NYTBR, by Maria Russo, 09.27.09 -- You have to hand it to Cain, who's made the serial-killer genre a thoroughly female-friendly experience. It's not just that Gretchen Lowell, the psycho killer at the center of Cain's thrillers, is a woman.

USA Today, by Carol Memmott, 10.01.09 -- Cain's wonderfully over-the-top series takes a new turn...It's not to be missed.

NYT Bestseller: for THREE weeks!

EVIL AT HEART has now been on the NYT Bestseller List for three weeks! (9/20/09: #16, 9/27/09: #28, 10/4/09: #33)

Chelsea Slays Portland: An Interview

Check out Chelsea's latest interview with Powell's Books here.  And why disembowelment is funny.  Or should be.

Evil at Heart EW Pick!

Entertainment Weekly names EVIL AT HEART their pick for September 5.  Go get your own copy already!

Evil at Heart: a Review by The Oregonian

"Archie may be an even more compelling character than Gretchen. Together -- and Cain puts them together in ways you'll never forget -- they perform a dance you can't stop staring at no matter how much it horrifies you....the prose itself is as sharp as Gretchen's scalpel and as deftly wielded."

MOST VIEWED on YouTube!

The trailer for my new book just HIT THE MOST VIEWED LIST under PEOPLE & BLOGS on YouTube!  Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb_WSQJamhA.

Fast Facts

August, 2014

Pub date: August 12, 2014

You can preorder this book now. 

August, 2013

Published Aug 13, 2012

Debuted at #21 on the NYT Bestseller List

Debuted at #24 on the Publisher's Weekly Bestseller List

Debuted at #10 on the PNW indie list. 

TV option in development

Starred review in Booklist

Available in hardcover, ebooks, audiobook, etc. 

August, 2012
  • Starred review in Publisher’s Weekly
  • Starred review in Booklist
  • Wall Street Journal summer book pick
  • More to come!
March, 2011
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Starred review in Booklist
  • "Chelsea Cain is ... the new queen of serial killer fiction" - Kirkus Reviews
March, 2011
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Starred review in Booklist
  • "Chelsea Cain is ... the new queen of serial killer fiction" - Kirkus Reviews
September, 2009
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Named by Amazon as “One of the Best Books of 2009…So Far”
  • Starred review in Booklist
  • Recommended on the TODAY show
September, 2008
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • One of Stephen King’s Top Ten Books of the Year (2008) in Entertainment Weekly
  • Audiobook an Audie Finalist
  • Appeared in an episode of the TV show Castle
September, 2007
  • Voted one of the best 100 thrillers ever written by NPR listeners
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • One of Stephen King’s Top Ten Books of the Year (2008) in Entertainment Weekly
  • New York Times Book Review "editor's choice"
  • Amazon's “Mystery/Thriller of the Year” (2007)
  • BookSense 76 Pick (September, 2007)
  • Featured alternate for Book of the Month Club, Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild, QPB
  • Translated into over 20 languages, including Icelandic, Romanian, and Japanese
  • Film rights optioned by DeMann Entertainment. Script in-development
  • Appeared in an episode of the TV show True Blood

Biography

Chelsea Cain is the author of The New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan thriller series, including HEARTSICK, SWEETHEART, EVIL AT HEART, THE NIGHT SEASON, KILL YOU TWICE, and LET ME GO.  Her Portland-based thrillers, described by The New York Times as "steamy and perverse," have been published in over 30 languages, recommended on “The Today Show,” and appeared in episodes of HBO’s “True Blood” and ABC’s “Castle.”  Stephen King included two of her books in his top ten favorite books of the year, and NPR named HEARTSICK one of the best 100 thrillers ever written.  According to Booklist, “Popular entertainment just doesn’t get much better than this."  Chelsea's new book ONE KICK (Simon & Schuster, Aug 2014) will launch the Kick Lannigan series. 

Reviews

Huffington Post's Jackie K. Cooper on LET ME GO

Sep 10 2013

LET ME GO is One of Chelsea Cain's Best, by Jackie K Cooper

Portland, Oregon Police Detective Archie Sheridan has a problem. There is a serial killer loose in his city. Her name is Gretchen Lowell and she and Archie have a long history together. He is fascinated by her and she loves him to death - at one time almost literally. This strange relationship makes up the core of Chelsea Cain's new novel LET ME GO, a complex and fascinating book.

If you have not read the first five Archie and Gretchen novels go ahead and plunge in now. You might not have all the details of their warped relationship but you will get the essence pretty quickly. Once you are into the story, hang on. It is one wild ride...

For full review, go to: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackie-k-cooper/let-me-go-is-one-of-chels_...

The New York Times Book Review on LET ME GO

Sep 10 2013

This is the sixth book in Cain’s series starring the Portland detective Archie Sheridan, who throughout has been tormented by the serial murderer Gretchen Lowell, known as the Beauty Killer. Early in the series, Gretchen beguiled Archie, destroyed his marriage and then, just for fun, removed his spleen and hammered nails into his chest, while honing her reputation as a psychopathically savage butcher. (In one instance, she decapitated a librarian, left the body in a car and returned the head to the library a week later with a note apologizing that it was overdue.)

Portland serves somewhat anachronistically as the hipster backdrop to these grisly killings, and Cain faithfully goes through the crime-lit checklist: the informant, the detective with his all-too-human foibles, the helpful strippers.

For the full review, go here

The Daily Texan, on LET ME GO

Sep 10 2013

By Robert Starr - It’s an unfortunate truth that every serial killer series, no matter how good, will ultimately be compared to Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels. On the surface, Chelsea Cain’s anti-hero, Gretchen Lowell, is just a blonde and beautiful female Lecter, and perhaps that was the initial seed that led to “Heartsick,” the first book in the series. But by the sixth book, “Let Me Go,” Lowell has taken on a life of her own and, thanks to Cain’s restraint, is nowhere near overstaying her welcome.

For full review, go here.

Booklist on LET ME GO (starred review)

Sep 10 2013

By Bill Ott - It figures that nonpareil serial killer Gretchen Lowell, on the loose since Kill You Twice (2012), would pick Halloween for a return trip to Portland, Oregon. After all, with all those revelers adorned in Beauty Killer masks, blond wigs, and red lipstick, no one will be able to tell the real Gretchen from the imitations. Except police detective Archie Sheridan, of course, on whose battered body Gretchen has done some of her best work, and who still can’t get Gretchen out of both his nightmares and sexual fantasies. But Archie has a lot on his mind. A DEA agent has been murdered, and it looks like the long-running sting operation aimed at a local drug lord may be in jeopardy. Hoping to learn more, Archie crashes the drug lord’s Halloween costume party, where he gets a late-night visit from Gretchen (or was that part just a fantasy?). Slowly Archie realizes that Gretchen has been stage-managing much of his recent life from afar, all leading up to a series of birthday surprises that put Archie’s pal, punky reporter Susan Ward, in grave danger. But here’s the thing: Cain knows she needs to keep playing with the dynamic between Gretchen and Archie—and even with our view of Gretchen—if this series is going to stay both fresh and exciting, and she always finds new ways to do it... 

For full review, go here

The Louisville Courier-Journal on LET ME GO

Sep 10 2013

Bolt the doors, bar the windows, and turn on all the lights before reading this latest thriller from Chelsea Cain: That scratching sound you hear outside might be Gretchen Lowell trying to break in!

Fans of the series know that Gretchen is—to oversimplify and shorthand it—kind of a female Hannibal Lector. No, she doesn’t eat her victims, but, Lord, does she devour their psyches—especially the ones who survive. Take Detective Archie Sheridan, whose psychosexual relationship with Gretchen has been the through-line for six books now. See, way back in book one, “Heartsick,” Archie was the lead detective trying to track down the Beauty Killer, a particularly loathsome fiend who did cruel and unusual things to his victims. Gretchen was a Portland psychologist who volunteered to help the squad track the elusive killer. Archie began an affair with her, only to discover that she was the very killer for whom they had been searching. After days of torture and other unspeakable experiments, Gretchen let Archie live and went to prison for her crimes. She has had a hold on him over the course of several books, both from within her cell, and from the outside after escaping.

In this outing, Gretchen is on the loose during Halloween season. Jack Reynolds’s drug enterprise has been infiltrated by his son, Leo, who is working undercover. Leo’s girlfriend, the irrepressible former reporter Susan Ward, is once again in the middle of things, and still pining secretly for Archie. Archie, meanwhile, continues his sexual trysts with his mysterious downstairs neighbor, Rachel.

After a private party on Reynolds’s island—a party which both Archie and Susan attend, unbeknownst to each other—several seemingly connected events occur: a murdered girl washes up on a nearby shore; Susan catches Leo in bloodstained clothing; Archie is rendered unconscious by Leo, only to wake up hours later on the island’s beach, much the worse for wear; and a disturbing security tape turns up which shows what happened to Archie for at least some of the time he was unconscious. Are these events all connected? And where does Gretchen Lowell fit in?

The author does a wondrous job of orchestrating the mayhem, pulling together disparate threads from this and past books. Her characters are the real deal: Flawed, feeling creations whose motivations may not be immediately apparent, but who always behave in believable ways. There are several payoffs in this book for which fans have been waiting, and new plotlines are begun.

Chelsea Cain is one of the most frightening writers in the genre. She writes prose that appears quite docile, but which jumps suddenly to sink its venomous fangs into your soul. This is creepy, often hellish stuff—as twisted as it is entertaining, and the stuff of nightmares.

The Oregonian on LET ME GO

Sep 10 2013

It's high summer, and fans of serial-killer fiction know what that means: It's time for the sixth installment of Chelsea Cain's "Beauty Killer" series, bringing new mayhem for Archie Sheridan, the pill-popping Portland police detective; Susan Ward, the rainbow-haired reporter with daddy issues; and Gretchen Lowell, the blond killer with a Miss America smile and cyanide in her veins...

For the full review, go here

KILL YOU TWICE, Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)

Jun 18 2012

Despite being locked away in the Oregon State Hospital, serial killer Gretchen Lowell still looms large in Det. Archie Sheridan’s life in bestseller Cain’s utterly engrossing fifth thriller featuring the pair (after 2011’s The Night Season). 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, 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. That blood oozes off practically every page is never in doubt. But neither is Cain’s skill in creating riveting character drama between two damaged souls.150,000 first printing; author tour. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Aug.)

KILL YOU TWICE, Booklist (Starred Review)

May 1 2012

In The Night Season (2011), Cain proved that she could write a superb thriller without the presence of her signature character, the “Beauty Killer,” Gretchen Lowell, who wreaked havoc through the first three novels in the series that costars Portland, Oregon, police detective Archie Sheridan. Well, Gretchen is back, and she’s better—and badder—than ever. Archie is healing, slowly, from all the wounds, physical and psychological, that Gretchen has inflicted upon him, and Gretchen is safely ensconced in the Oregon State Mental Hospital (well, safely may be a stretch). Then Archie gets a call from Gretchen’s psychiatrist with a message that the killer Archie is hunting is after Gretchen’s child. A child? Gretchen? This is news, to be sure, and though Archie is reluctant to believe anything that pours from the Beauty Killer’s ruby-red lips, he realizes, as he digs into the case, that he’s rummaging about in the early life of Gretchen Lowell. Every time we start to wonder if Cain has gone as far as she can go with the Gretchen-Archie danse macabre, she surprises us with something utterly fresh and compelling. By telling the story of how Gretchen came to be the Beauty Killer, but telling it in the context of a present-day murder with ties to the past—and making plenty of room for the series’ stellar cast of supporting characters, reporter Susan Ward and her wacky mother, Bliss, among them—Cain hits the narrative throttle with all cylinders firing. Like the best thriller writers, though, she knows how to ease off the throttle, too, making room for subtle and satisfying character interplay but at the same building tension as we wait for the narrative to burst into overdrive once again. Masterful on every level.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Cain hits the road for this one, with a national author tour supported by, well, everything the modern world has got to offer; 150,000 first printing.

— Bill Ott

The New York Times Book Review, The Night Season

Mar 27 2011

Inky Depths

By ZOË SLUTZKY

Portland, Ore., is wet from the start of “The Night Season.” A storm has soaked the city for weeks. Gulls line the roads, blown inland from the sea. The Willamette River surges with debris. Rain cascades from rooftops and clogs the basement drains of the Multnomah County morgue. This Portland is much like the one in Chelsea Cain’s previous novels, but darker, blurred around the edges and sunk under a cloud cover that threatens to engulf it completely.

Into this waterlogged world trudges Cain’s troubled hero, Detective Archie Sheridan, “a stubborn martyr with a white knight complex.” A woman has been found dead, draped atop the riverside merry-go-round. She seems to have drowned, but a tiny puncture on her palm suggests foul play. The two other people who drowned that week bear identical marks. When Archie’s longtime partner, Henry Sobol, lands in the I.C.U. with an unknown toxin in his veins, the case takes on new urgency. Suspended in semiconsciousness, Henry is both silent witness and sole survivor of the murderer’s rite.

By now, Archie (and Cain’s loyal readers, of which there are many) knows the signs of a serial killer all too well. In “Heartsick” and its two sequels, Cain conjured Gretchen Lowell, a blue-eyed psychopath with an endless résumé of gory murders. Archie was Gretchen’s special victim, trapped and tortured after 10 years on her trail, and spared at the 11th hour in a twisted act of mercy. Back in jail, Gretchen has receded to the fringes of the narrative, but her lethal beauty haunts the detective. He fingers the heart-shaped scar she carved into his chest as if it has replaced his own.

The crimes in “The Night Season” are at once less plausible and less deliciously perverse than Gretchen’s drawn-out butcheries. As the hours creep by, the task force discovers the killer’s bizarre, ­aquarium-bound weapon. The motive is murkier. Susan Ward, The Oregon Herald’s neon-haired crime columnist, returns in a central role, shadowing Archie as he makes his sleepless way through the investigation. Despite his half-hearted attempts to shake her off, her dogged detective work proves crucial to the case. “You know how everyone has a tiny talent?” she asks him. “Like parallel parking? Or catching serial killers? Mine is Googling.” Irreverent, vulnerable and sharp, she is as shrewdly drawn as Archie and as interesting to watch. As in the past, she ends up in the thick of things, and the book’s high-octane ending hinges on her resolve.

Cain intercuts her quick-paced chapters, which spin each narrative strand with expert restraint, with brief moments in the murderer’s footsteps. In one early scene, Susan scours the park at night while the killer follows two paces behind, obscured by the darkness beyond her flashlight’s beam. “He could kill her. In a heartbeat,” he thinks. “He would not even break a sweat doing it.” These glimpses of psychosis are unsettling, but they never chill with the force of Gretchen’s ice-blue stare. Like Gretchen, this novel’s cephalopod-obsessed killer wants his victims to experience death — to know it intimately. But there is a motive to his derangement. Perhaps inevitably, Gretchen’s deadly machinations are more frightening for their wanton brand of evil.

Still, the world that Cain creates is as dark and ominous as ever. The novel’s greatest menace is the weather, which transforms Portland’s familiar topography into something less than welcoming. Flooded and obscured by rain, the city becomes wild, unknowable: “The thin wisps of trees lining the sidewalk shuddered, bare-leaved, in the wind. The whole world glistened wet and black, like the Pacific Ocean at night.” When the storm nearly levels its downtown, the sudden shifts in perspective are vertiginous, and thrilling. This is the mood that Cain has mastered: the dread of knowing something is off, but not being able to see it clearly. It is what presses her readers onward, pulses rising along with the waterline.

Zoë Slutzky has written for Bookforum, The Los Angeles Times and Mother Jones.

THE NIGHT SEASON, Kirkus Reviews

Feb 18 2011

Finally free, at least physically, of his former lover and crazed torturer, Gretchen Lowell, who's behind bars, Portland Detective Archie Sheridan vies with a slightly more mundane serial killer in Cain's latest installment in the series (Heartsick, 2007, etc.).

Where do you go as a mystery writer after your beautiful, smart, cruelly amusing main attraction has pulled out all psychotic stops in making your star detective's life an unrelieved hell? In this volume, Cain gives Gretchen a breather and replaces her with 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, 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. Compared to the Gretchen Lowell books, there's nothing else particularly wild about this novel. But the story is deftly handled, the suspense is plentiful and Cain's evocation 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, but this novel does an excellent job of killing time until then.

A strong and satisfying, if less extreme, outing from the new queen of serial-killer fiction.

Contact Chelsea's Publicist


Sarah Reidy | Senior Publicity Manager| Simon & Schuster 
1230 Avenue of the Americas | New York, NY 10020 | T. 212-698-7008 
[email protected] | @sarah_reidy

Or, for inquiries related to the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series:

Hector DeJean
Minotaur Publicity Manager
St. Martin's Press
175 5th Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY   10010
email