Tag Archives: Portland

Review: Stumptown Volume 1 by Greg Rucka

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oni Press (April 5, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1934964379
  • Source: Personal copy

Dex is a private investigator in a bit of a slump. Not only is business slow, but she in debt with the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast to a tune of $18,000. Sue-Lynne, head of the Wind Coast’s casino, offers to ignore the debt if Dex can find her missing granddaughter, Charlotte Suppa.  Unfortunately, Dex isn’t the only one trying to get their hands on Charlotte. Dex finds herself in more trouble than when she started…if that’s at all possible.

I started this series upon recommendation by Julie of Whimpulsive.  I was looking to introduce more graphic novels to my reading repertoire and Stumptown was a perfect fit! It combines my love of crime fiction with my growing adoration and appreciation of graphic novels.

What stands out about this graphic novel is the main character, Dex. She’s flawed, with a number of personal issues and demons to be faced.  These flaws, however, are what make her a genuine and believable character.  She’s tough, no-nonsense, but is still kind at heart (especially when it comes to her younger brother, Ansel, who has Down’s Syndrome).

The dynamic and skilled illustrations by Matthew Southworth are another aspect of this graphic novel that truly stand out. They not complement the tone and feel of the storyline but also add a bit of visual intensity. Southworth captures the Portland, OR setting quite well, the city coming alive on the page.


This is a series I definitely plan to continue. While the price point isn’t low, it’s well worth the value. This is a graphic novel I will repeatedly pull off of my shelf to pour through the pages. Highly, highly recommended.

Frightful Friday: Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured book is Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain:

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (August 7, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0312619782
  • Source: Publisher


Gretchen Lowell, the serial killer who has been tormenting Portland for years, is finally locked away in a psych ward, the medication to treat her transforming her into just a shell of the beauty she was before.  Finally, Portland detective Archie Sheridan can start to heal from the emotional and physical devastation Gretchen inflicted on him.

In true Archie form, he throws himself in the next case that crosses his desk. A body is found by a cyclist, tortured, skinned and found hanging from a tree. The killer was bold; the crime committed out in the open.  Soon after, Archie receives a message from Gretchen’s doctor: Gretchen claims to have information about the killing.  Knowing Gretchen’s history of manipulating those around her just to satisfy her own needs, Archie ignores Gretchen’s demands that he visit her.

As the Portland police are called out on similarly brutal crimes, Archie can’t help but wonder if Gretchen is involved somehow in these killings, despite being locked up in a secure medical facility.  He visits her, and as always, Gretchen treats the visit and their interaction as a game, only revealing just enough information to whet Archie’s attention. It obviously isn’t Gretchen committing these brutal murders, but someone with ties directly to her.  Is there a serial killer more brutal to the Beauty Killer stalking the streets of Portland? Only Archie Sheridan can get inside the evil mind of Gretchen and discover the identity of the killer.

Let me start off by saying that Chelsea Cain, by far, is my all time favorite female thriller writer. I’ve followed Archie & Gretchen’s sick and twisted relationship from the beginning, engulfing each of the books in this series as soon as I can get my hands on them. Admittedly, I always set my standards high when it comes to Cain’s writing and, to date, I have yet to be disappointed.

Kill You Twice once again lives up to these standards and may very well be my favorite. While Gretchen doesn’t play quite the involved role as she has in previous books, readers learn more about her past and how she came to be the Beauty Killer.  But, by far my favorite part of this book is the amount of growth, and healing, Archie experiences.  While Gretchen continues to have a hold on him, he’s finally learned how to break the chains she holds on his heart, his emotions, his body. To say the relationship this extremely odd-couple has is twisted is an understatement. Gretchen has performed incredibly brutal and tortuous things to Archie yet, despite it all, there is a level of respect and, yes, love between the two. Yet, Archie is able to put these strong…feelings aside and use his control and influence on Gretchen to get the information he needs.

Kill You Twice is the fifth book in this series and while readers could probably get by with picking up the series at any point, I highly, highly recommend you start at the beginning with Heartsick to truly understand the history of Gretchen & Archie’s relationship, to see it evolve.

Cain excels at developing these incredibly rich characters. In my opinion, she is the queen of psychological thrillers, never failing to take her reader on a twisted journey inside the mind of an incredibly demented character. Like author Gillian Flynn, Cain creates a demented world that you can’t bear to tear yourself away from.

Now is the perfect time to start this series if you have not yet, for FX is developing the series for television! Looking for a incredibly twisted psychological thriller? This is the series for you! Highly, highly recommended.

For you audiobook fans, this title is also available in audiobook format from Macmillan Audio. Click here to listen to a sample.



Waiting on Wednesday: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

The book I’m eagerly awaiting is THE NIGHT SEASON by Chelsea Cain. It’s the fourth book in Chelsea’s Beauty Killer series.  I literally yelled with excitement yesterday when I read about it on Twitter.  Here is a synopsis from the publisher:

Chelsea Cain launches the next stage of her bestselling series as Archie Sheridan works to regain his life and Susan Ward steps in to share the spotlight in this electric thriller from one of today’s most talented suspense writers.
With Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell locked away behind bars once again, Portland detective Archie Sheridan can finally rest. Meanwhile, the city of Portland is in crisis. Several people have drowned in heavy rains that have flooded the Willamette River. But the medical examiner discovers that in fact the latest victim was poisoned before she went into the water—she didn’t drown. A little detective work shows that so far three of those previously thought to be accidental drownings have actually been murdered. Portland has a new serial killer on its hands, and Archie and his task force have a new case. Meanwhile reporter Susan Ward is following up on an entirely separate mystery: the dramatic flooding has unearthed a skeleton, a man who might have died during catastrophic flooding more than sixty years ago that washed away an entire neighborhood and killed at least 15 people.

 As Archie follows the bizarre trail of evidence and evil deeds to catch his killer, he has to battle the rising waters of the Willamette first.

I’m literally aching to get my hands on a copy of this book! I’ve been a Chelsea Cain fan from the beginning! As a matter of fact, during Dectectives Around the World, hosted by Jen’s Book Thoughts,  I did a spotlight on Chelsea Cain’s Portland.

THE NIGHT SEASON is scheduled for release by Minotaur Books on March 1, 2011.  Over seven months to wait…however will I do it!?

A Glimpse Inside Chelsea Cain’s Portland

On Monday, I introduced you all to the thrilling & bone-chilling world of Chelsea Cain.  As I mentioned, setting in Cain’s novels are like a character in and of themselves, so I thought it would be perfect to get a real glimpse inside the world of Chelsea Cain’s Portland. Following are just a few of the Portland, OR-area sites mentioned in Evil at Heart:

Pittock Mansion was the home of Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919. The mansion serves as a monument to all the contributions the family made to Portland. The home was equipped with progressive features including a central vacuum system, intercoms, and indirect lighting. The mansion was opened to the public in 1965.  In Chelsea Cain’s Portland, the Pittock Mansion is one of Gretchen Lowe’s many crime scenes.

Portland’s Rose Gardens was created in as a place for Georgiana Burton Pittock to exhibit her roses for her friends and family.  It’s renowned for it’s tens of thousands of rose varieties.  Unfortunately, this beautiful, scenic garden was yet another on of Gretchen Lowe’s crime scenes.

The Columbia River Gorge, an 80-mile geologic wonder that forms the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, is proof of Nature’s unbridled strength. Glacial floods thousands of years ago carved this 1,200-mile-long river, which is the only sea-level passage to cross the Cascade Mountains.  And..you’ve guessed it correctly, it’s another crime scene.

Following is a video of Chelsea Cain herself, touring through Portland.  She also describes how she was inspired to write about a female serial killer.  She starts at the beginning, with  scenes from Heartsick. Be careful, there are some spoilers!

I hope this glimpse inside Chelsea Cain’s Portland hasn’t tainted your feelings about this great city!

Don’t forget, you can still enter to win the entire Chelsea Cain “Beauty Killer” library! Contest ends on 4/26!

I’d be remiss not to thank Jen from Jen’s Book Thoughts for arranging Detectives Around the World! She did an outstanding job!  I discovered several new blogs and authors, so THANK YOU JEN!!

Review & Giveaway: Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0312368488
  • Source: Publisher

Archie Sheridan was held captive and tortured by Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and sexy serial killer who has haunted the citizens of Portland, OR for years.  She brags that she’s killed over 200 people, and she nearly killed Archie. He’s voluntarily admitted himself into a psychiatric hospital in an attempt to get over his addiction of Vicoden, and Gretchen herself.

Archie’s not the only one who is infatuated with Gretchen. Her crimes have been sensationalized by the media; Hundreds of “Beauty Killer” fan sites have popped up on the internet.  There’s even a tour bus that drives tourists around to the spots where Gretchen’s victims’ bodies were found.

When body parts are discovered in the bathroom of a local rest stop, along with the tell-tale “hearts” Gretchen was known to decorate her crime scenes (and victims!) with, everyone believes the serial killer is killing again.  Archie’s good friend, Detective Henry Sobol, new lead of the “Beauty Killer” task force, asks Archie to check himself out of the psych ward to once again join the hunt for Gretchen. Joining the hunt alongside Archie and Henry is Susan Ward, a reporter for the local newspaper, another near-victim of the Beauty Killer.

Bodies begin showing up at the sites of Gretchen’s killings.  Something seems a little off to Archie. Gretchen’s MO is to remove the spleens of her victims and to carve hearts on their bodies.  These new victims don’t quite fit the profile of Gretchen’s handiwork.  Once again, Archie puts his own life in danger in order to find the truth behind the killings.

Chelsea Cain has once again done a stunning job!  Her ability to portray such a vicious killer astounds and impresses me.  As in the previous two books, Sweetheart and Heartsick, the relationship between Archie and Gretchen fascinates me!  Archie’s character has performed an astounding transformation.  He literally went from a bumbling love-sick puppy in Gretchen’s presence to a relatively strong character.

There are quite a few scenes in  Evil at Heart that are terrifying and gruesome, even more so than any of Cain’s previous books. However, this wasn’t just randomly inserted, I think it was done to realistically capture the pure evil that resides in the killer.

I highly recommend this, and the other “Beauty Killer” books to anyone who enjoy a nice, terrifying read! Take a peak at the book’s trailer!

I’m now happy to announce a special giveaway!  One grand prize winner will receive the entire “Beauty Killer” series: a paperback of Heartsick, an ARC of Sweetheart, and a hardback copy of Evil at Heart.  One runner-up will win an audiobook of Heartsick. To be entered into the contest, please fill out the form below. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.  Contest ends Monday, April 26th.

Please be sure to come back on Saturday for post about Chelsea Cain’s Portland.  You see, in Cain’s writing, the setting is practically a character itself.  Cain made sure to pick real locations to detail in her books, and on Saturday we’re going to take a tour of these spots!