I had been listening to EVIL AT HEART for a second time over the last few days. My reaction this time is the same as when I first listened – mixed. There are things I really like, and some that kind of bug me.

EVIL AT HEART was one of my “try something new” acquisitions from late last year. The official Try Something New Program involves visiting one of the local used bookstores and heading directly to the clearance section. I then look through the audio books in hopes of finding a cheap edition I don’t have, by an author I like. Failing that, I look for something by an author I’ve never read or listened to. I start with thrillers, then mystery and crime, then SciFi/Specutlative Fiction, then Romance.

(Just kidding about the Romance)

I found an unabridged CD audio book of Evil At Heart by Chelsea Cain. This is the third in a series about a female serial killer named Gretchen Lowell and Detective Archie Sheridan who has put himself in a mental ward by chasing her. I got home, converted it to MP3 so I could fit the entire book on one disk, and started listening as I navigated the always maddening streets and by-ways of the Far North Dallas Metro-Mess.

I was pleased as I began to listened to it that first time. I found the writing pleasant but with an edge, which I really like. The story was interesting, and the backstory was presented in an easy and interesting manner. I liked that, too.

The story developed, Gretchen escaped and it appears that she is back to her old, brutal ways. Body parts appear and Sheridan is checked out of the Psych Ward, kind of like a book from the local library, to help with the investigation.

We learn the backstory as the current storyline unfolds, again something I liked. We also begin to suspect that Gretchen is manipulating the situation to get Sheridan in on the hunt. With a reporter sidekick, he begins to track the killers as only he can.

The chase is interesting, though it develops a little slowly for me. As they learn more about the killer / killers, the relationship between Sheridan and Lowell is further explained and developed. Here, for me, the book changed. I don’t know if it’s just me, but there seemed to be a loss of focus. In places it seemed like the author was looking to add some kind of ‘shock value’ to the story. It became more sexual, explicitly violent (which is not always a problem for me), and cruel.  I don’t have a problem with these elements, as long as I know what to expect. My biggest complaint is that Cain pulls a bit of a ‘switcheroo’ in the middle. The book in the middle is not exactly the same as the book she told us it was going to be at the beginning.

And here, on my second time, I stopped listening. I finished the book the first time, and I’m glad I did. Again, I think her writing is very good, and the story – over all – was interesting. I would probably be interested in reading the first two books in the series if the opportunity arises because honestly, I was a little disappointed that the book changed. If the second part had held me as well as the first I would still be listening to it.

I’m not making a recommendation for this book. I’m glad I read it. I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone not to read it, but I just can’t bring myself to recommend it, either. It’s your call.

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