Kill You Twice (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series #5)

Kill You Twice (Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series #5)

by Chelsea Cain

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Chelsea Cain

Nothing makes Portland detective Archie Sheridan happier than knowing that Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell is locked away in a psych ward. Archie can finally heal from the near-fatal physical and emotional wounds she's inflicted on him and start moving on with his life. Or can he? His latest case, involving a man who was mutilated and murdered in a public park in broad daylight, bears the stamp of an expert killer…and before long, Archie gets a message from Gretchen, who makes him an offer he can't refuse.

Gretchen claims to have inside knowledge about the grisly Mount Tabor Park murder—and Archie can't risk losing his only lead in the case. At least, that's what he tells himself after he agrees to visit Gretchen…But the ties between Archie and Gretchen have always been stronger, deeper, and more complex than he's willing to admit, even to himself. What game is Gretchen playing this time? And even more frightening, what long-hidden secrets from her past have been dredged up that someone would kill to protect?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312619794
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 07/02/2013
Series: Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell Series , #5
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 236,983
Product dimensions: 4.42(w) x 6.68(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

CHELSEA CAIN'S six novels featuring Archie Sheridan have all been New York Times bestsellers. Also the author of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, a parody based on the life of Nancy Drew, and several nonfiction titles, she was born in Iowa, raised in Bellingham, Washington, and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

Read an Excerpt


Archie Sheridan slept with the light on. The pills on his bedside table were Ambien. A year before they would have been pain pills. Vicodin. Oxycodone. A cheerful skyline of amber plastic bottles. Even now the table looked empty without the clutter. Just the Ambien, a cell phone, a week-old glass of tap water, and a red gooseneck lamp from IKEA.

His kept his gun in the drawer. On the nights the kids weren’t there, he slept with it loaded.

The Ambien prescription was untouched. Archie just liked to know it was there. Sleeping pills made Archie groggy, and groggy wasn’t a luxury he could afford. If the phone rang, if someone died, he needed to go to work.

Besides, it wasn’t getting to sleep that was the problem. It was staying asleep. He woke up every morning at three A.M., and was awake for an hour. That was how it had gone since the flood. Now he just figured it in. Went to bed an hour earlier. Compensated. He didn’t mind it. As long as he controlled his thoughts, kept his mind from wandering to bad places, he was fine. Focus on the present. Avoid the dark.

The gooseneck lamp stayed on, its red metal shade getting hotter by the hour.

Three-ten A.M. Archie stared at the ceiling. The apartment was sweltering and his bedroom window was open. He could hear the distant grind of the construction equipment still working to clean up the flood damage downtown. They’d been at it in swing shifts for three months, and the city still looked gutted.

If it wasn’t the noise from the construction, it was the trains he heard at night: the engines, the whistles, the wheels on the tracks. They traveled through Portland’s produce district around the clock.
Archie didn’t mind the noise. It reminded him that he wasn’t the only one awake.

Everyone had a cure for insomnia. Take a warm bath. Exercise. Drink a glass of warm milk. Eat a snack before bedtime. Drink herbal tea. Avoid caffeine. Listen to music. Get a massage.

Nothing worked.

His shrink told him to stay in bed.

Don’t even read, she said. It would just make getting back to sleep harder.

He just had to lie there.

But his pillow was too flat. The used mattress he’d bought groaned every time he turned over.

The heat made his scars itch. The new skin was tight and prickly, reminding him of every place her blade had sliced his flesh. His chest was knitted with scar tissue. Patches of dark hair sprouted around the thick pale pink gashes and pearly threads, unable to grow through the tough flesh.

That sort of itching, in the middle of the night, can make a person crazy, and sometimes, while he slept, he scratched his scars until they bled.

Archie ran a hand along his side, the scars pebbly under his fingers, and then over his chest, where his fingers found the heart-shaped scar she had carved into him with a scalpel. Then he made a fist with his hand, rolled over, and pinned it under his pillow.

*   *   *

Four-ten A.M.

Archie’s cell phone rang. He turned over in bed and looked at the clock on his bedside table. He’d been asleep ten minutes. It seemed like longer. His eyeballs felt gritty, his tongue coated. His hair was damp with sweat. He was on his stomach, naked, half his face smashed against the pillow. As he reached out and fumbled for his phone he knocked over the bottle of Ambien, which toppled and rolled off the bedside table and clattered to a stop somewhere under the bed.

Archie brought the phone’s glowing LCD screen to his face and immediately recognized the number.

He knew he should let it go to voice mail.

But he didn’t.

“Hi, Patrick,” Archie said into the phone.

“I can’t sleep,” Patrick said. His voice was a strained whisper. Probably trying not to wake up his parents. “What if he comes back to get me?” Patrick said.

“He’s dead,” Archie said.

Patrick was silent. Not convinced.

The official report had been death by drowning. A half-truth. Archie had held Patrick’s captor’s head underwater, and when he was dead, he had pushed his body into the current of the flooded river.
The corpse still hadn’t surfaced.

“Believe me,” Archie said. Because I killed him.

“Will you come and visit me?” Patrick asked.

“I can’t right now,” Archie said.

“Can I come and visit you?”

Archie rolled over on his back and rubbed his forehead with his hand. “I think your parents want to keep you close right now.”

“I heard them talking about me. They want to give me medicine.”

“They’re trying to help you feel better.”

“I have a secret,” Patrick said.

“Do you want to tell me what it is?” Archie asked.

“Not yet.”

Archie didn’t want to force it. Not after what Patrick had been through. “Okay,” he said.

“Will you count with me?” Patrick asked. It was something Archie had done with his own son. Counting breaths to get to sleep. Patrick and Ben were both nine. But Patrick’s experience had left him changed. He was mature without being sophisticated.

“Sure,” Archie said. He waited. He could hear Patrick getting settled and imagined him curled on his side on the couch in his family’s living room, the phone held to his ear. Archie had never seen that couch, that house, but he’d seen photographs in the police file. He could picture it.

“One,” Archie said. He paused and listened as Patrick drew a breath and exhaled it. “Two.” Archie sat up in bed. Patrick yawned. “Three.” He put his feet on the floor. “Four.” Stood up. “Five.” The windows in his bedroom were original, made up of dozens of factory-style rectangular panes. If Archie ran his fingers over the glass, he could feel tiny waves and ripples on the surface.

“Six,” he said.

He made his way to the window. “Seven.” The light was on inside, and it was still dark enough outside that Archie could see his own mirror image in the glass. As he got closer, his reflection faded and the city appeared. Out his window the Willamette cut a curved path north, slicing the city in half. A sliver of light along the silhouette of the West Hills marked the first hint of dawn. The river was almost lilac-colored.

“Eight,” he said.

It was the truck’s backup alarm that caught his attention. The window was open, hinged along the top so that it swung out horizontally. Archie’s eyes flicked down to the street below.


The streetlights were still on. The produce district had wide streets, built big enough for multiple trucks full of apples and strawberries. But the trucks didn’t run much anymore. The warehouses were now mostly home to used office supply stores, fringe art galleries, Asian antique stores, coffeehouses, and microbreweries. It was close in and cheap, as long as you didn’t mind the trains that barreled through the neighborhood every few hours.


The truck down below had backed up to the loading dock of Archie’s building and stopped. A black sedan pulled up beside it. Two men got out of the cab of the truck and walked around to slide the back door up. A woman got out of the black car. Archie knew she was a woman the same way he knew that the men in the truck were men. It was how they stood, how they moved, the dark shapes of their bodies in the yellow glow of the streetlights. The woman said something to the men, and then took a few steps back and watched as the men started unloading large cardboard boxes from the truck.

A U-Haul.

Someone was moving into the building. At four in the morning.

Archie had stopped counting.

“Patrick?” he said.

The other end of the line was silent.

“Good night,” Archie whispered.

He ended the call. It was 4:17 A.M. The bed beckoned. He could still get a few hours’ sleep before he had to head in to the office. As he stepped away from the window, he thought he saw the woman look up at him.

Copyright © 2012 by Verite Inc.

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Kill You Twice 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
M-Ekim-K More than 1 year ago
One of the best installments in the series since Heartsick! You'd think the twisted relationship between Lowell and Sheridan would get old after 5 books but it in no way does. Cain does a superb job of making each book feel fresh, and I have faith she'll continue to do so in the future without disappointing us.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
Archie Sheridan, a detective at the Major Case Task Force in Portland, Oregon, for years had headed what was termed the Beauty Killer Task Force, dedicated to tracking down and bringing to justice a megalomaniac serial killer whose victims were tortured and killed in gruesome ways, graphically described. Their target, Gretchen Lowell, a stunning blonde who claims she had killed more than two hundred people, almost claimed Archie as one of her victims, but despite slowly torturing him over a 10-day period [during which time, among other things, she removed his spleen - - without anesthesia, of course], she let him live. She is now locked up in the forensic psychiatric services ward of the State Hospital. Six years later, now forty-one, Archie has only recently returned to work after two years on medical leave. He is called to a murder scene as the book opens; soon after another body is discovered with striking similarities. As Archie says about Portland, it is “known for its blush-tinted scenery, and its serial killers.” There is still a strong connection between Archie and Gretchen, and ultimately he accedes to her calls asking him to come see her, at which point she says she can help him find the killer. His scars, which still itch and sometimes bleed, are a constant reminder of her brutality, but he can no sooner escape them than he can the power and sexual pull she still exerts over him. The characters in the series are vividly drawn, and fully fleshed out. Susan Ward, reappearing three months after being fired from the local newspaper, the Herald, still very attracted to Archie; Susan’s mother, Bliss, a former hippie, whose “eyes looked sparkly and spacey, like an anesthetized rabbit;” Henry, Archie’s best friend and partner, himself recovering from a narrow escape from death, and trying without much success to keep his relationship with a fellow cop under wraps; Leo Reynolds, an attorney and the son of a drug kingpin whose sister’s killer Archie had caught; among others. In trademark fashion, as the investigation proceeds and the solution is in sight, the tight plotting grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go till the end, and the author pulls off one unexpected twist after another. And lest you think the book is entirely comprised of graphic violence, be assured that there are regular doses of humor in these pages. Parenthetically, in case you’re wondering, the title of this book comes from a couplet: “Sweet as sugar, hard as ice, hurt me once, I’ll kill you twice.” If this is your introduction to the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series, you’ll understand it better after you read the book – not necessarily an easy read, certainly, but a highly recommended one. The next book in the series, “Let Me Go,’ is due out in August of 2013, and I for one can’t wait!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was good enough to make you want to find out whodunit, but I couldn't really take it too seriously. Good entertainment.
Stacers1973 More than 1 year ago
Chelsea Cain just gets better and better. Now how long do I have to wait for the next one?! Another amazing Gretchen/Archie story - great characters, awkward moments and plot twists aplenty - REALLLLLY?! Sweet :)
Kate72 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait for the new book to be released and it was, as all Chelsea Cain's books are, a treat. The depth of the characters is practically tangible; I especially liked getting to know Bliss and Susan better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. Only some connections between characters were not obvious to me but that is because I did not read the books that preceded this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ohhhh, Chelsea Cain, how I love these books. I am completely hooked. To fans that were disappointed with the last book for the lack of the Gretchen/Archie aspect, GRETCHEN IS BACK!!!! I have loved all of these books, but the last one was a little different than the first three. This books jumps right back into the intense relationship between Archie and Gretchen, and we also get to see the growing relationship (?????) happening between Susan and Archie. Is Archie really healing? The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that I have to wait so long for the next one and this author does have a great way of letting you know there are more to come (cliff hanger)!!!!!!!! I do soooooo hate waiting. This is Chelsea Cain on top of her game. Thanx again Ms. Cain for another wonderfully tense suspenseful book. I loved it.
Demert More than 1 year ago
Chelsea Cain has done it again. I absolutely love this series and this might be one of the best. The only bad thing is the wait for the next book. Highly recommend this book and the entire series.
BluJay More than 1 year ago
Non-stop blood, gore and ugliness are not necessary to produce a good mystery. Good writing would suffice. I got through the first 50 or more pages of this and threw the book out.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Once again loving Archie and his friends.
mikedraper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Det. Archie Sheridan is still recovering from his last encounter with serial killer Gretchen Losell.As the story begins, he and his men are at Mount Tabor Park in Portland. They are examining the body of Jack Kelly who was murdered, tied by his wrists to a tree and appered to have been skinned from the neck down.Archie's men are concerned about his health and he admits to being weak. He was almost killed by Gretchen who is now at Oregon State Mental Hospital. Even now, he gets a call relayed by her shrink. She asks for Archie's help because there is a killer at large who is after her child.When Archie refuses to believe Gretchen's message, she contacts reporter, Susan Ward. She goes tot he hospital and Gretchen gives her an exclusive interview on tape where she admits to murdering someone in her past. In return, she asks Susan to tell Archie that she needs to see him.Another body is found. This time it's a woman and her body has been burned. While Archie and his unit investigate these murders, there is something in Gretchen's message about having an associate in her killings. Then she admits that the man went renegade. She thinks he had something to do with the case Archie is working on.The author knows how to write an interesting story. The cat and mouse game is played out with the goal of stopping the killer before the next victim meets their fate. The characters are correctly portrayed and the author gives more information about Gretchen's background which helps readers better to understand her.Chelsea Cain is a superb entertainer. I thought the conclusion was somewhat predictable but overall the story was clever and engrossing.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain is another fast-paced thriller from the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series. When a gruesome murder scene is discovered in a park in east Portland, detective Sheridan is left with few leads, at least until the infamous serial killer, Gretchen Lowell, who has been imprisoned in a psych hospital, makes contact with him. The connections between Archie and Gretchen are many, as readers will have come to know from the previous novels in this series, and Cain has masterfully re-ignited the psychological conflict between them. The plot, which eventually unveils important links between Gretchen¿s past and the murder Archie is so desperate to solve, will keep readers¿ attention through to the end while offering a few new glimpses into the psyche of this notorious serial killer. First-time Cain readers should consider beginning with the first in the series as the back story is important, but for those having read the previous novels, this one is perhaps the most thrilling and graphic of the series.Disclaimer: I received a copy of Kill You Twice through the Amazon VINE Program, for review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome Audio Book. The author makes you feel like your there with graphic detail. I would not recommend this for someone who doesn't like a graphic horror stories.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
When I was looking for something to read, this appeared as a suggestion. It sounded interesting and so I begun reading the series from the beginning and really liked it. And from there, I started liking the characters, the story, the fast paced and wondered how the mystery was going to be solved at the end. Also as to who I imagine for Archie and Gretchen. Not sure exactly but Sean Bean comes to mind and Katie McGrath. I don't know that's just me. Just who I thought of while reading the books. Yeah, I think I say or if I haven't already said it by now, is this is my new favorite series. Sure with some series, you read a certain number of books in a series and start to get bored. With the Gretchen and Archie series, I think I was getting like that with book 4 but then once I got back into it, I was thinking what's wrong with me, I love this series. About time we got some backstory or hints to Gretchen. Oh yeah, this one had the Beauty Killer this time. Where last book not so much but its goo to take a break from that and having the next book getting back to the usual cat and mouse game Gretchen and Archie can't seem to stop playing. This was going to be a 4.5 but then near the end it changed to 5. Though I think that's what I been doing with first couple of books. Well, the ones with Gretchen anyway. Creepy but haunting cover there. The book that got me interested in the series and looking forward to the next book.
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PainFrame More than 1 year ago
Do you have any drain cleaner?  Of the five Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell novels I’ve read and loved, this one just might be my favorite. Not only is Gretchen back as a main character, but there are some major revelations about her past that shed light on the previous four stories. Susan, with all of her quirkiness, remains my favorite character, but I also enjoyed the interactions between Gretchen and Archie immensely. As for this new neighbor Rachel? Well I don’t trust her at all. And just like a great season ending episode of your favorite TV show, this one will leave you panting for book six.
acorley84 More than 1 year ago
Kill you Twice - Gretchen's BAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK! For a more in depth review, please visit my blog, Chorley Chronicals! I was slightly a little disappointed after reading The Night Season compared to the other books in Chelsea Cain's Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell series, but not disappointed enough to stop me from reading another book!  In true Chelsea Cain fashion, Kill You Twice definitely lived up to all the hype that was built up in the other books in the series! I was glad to see that Gretchen Lowell was back in Kill You Twice, and as in the first few books, she holds back nothing!  She is back to her truly psychotic ways and I LOVE IT!  Cain sure knows how to write a totally sick book!  She never fails to leave me reeling and wondering, who thinks of this stuff, but gosh I love it!  Does that make me demented as well?  The more sick and twisted the plot, the more I enjoy it, and Kill You Twice fell right into that! I enjoy that each book is a character builder and lets us see a little bit more about a particular character!  The more I read about Archie, Gretchen, Susan, Henry and Claire, the more I want to keep reading!  I think the characters in this series have got to be the most diverse, unique set of characters that I have ever read.  I mean seriously, I don't think anyone else is capable of creating such greatness in characters. The narrator, Christina Delaine, did this series much more justice than she did in The Night Season, and was easy to listen to and follow in this book.  She did the characters justice and was a great reader, especially given the content of what she was reading!  Great job!  Overall, I am so glad that this series picked back up from the last book.  All too often, I find that the deeper you get into the series, the worst each book gets, and I was totally afraid that was what was going to happen with this series, but oh how Chelsea Cain pulled it off again!  I am so thrilled to have read this book and can't wait to check out the next (and last for now) book in this series, Let Me Go!
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
The dynamic between between Archie and Gretchen is back and its as enjoyable as ever. Chelsea Cain delivers again and rebounds from the last installment's low points. Delving into Gretchen's personal history and tying it to the present was fantastic. Archie's road to recovery, both medical and mental, is a great read and seeing how he deals with those around him during this is spectacular. The crimes in this are as gruesome as ever and the other antagonist(s) other than Gretchen are serious, the mystery and dots are connected too quickly. I really enjoyed it all but the read could have been a little longer to elongate the suspense. Great read.
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This series is the best!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago