Dead Scared – S J Bolton
Dead Scared is Bolton’s fifth book and the second in her new series featuring DC Lacey Flint. Her no nonsense female police officer. I was concerned when Bolton announced she was beginning a series but I loved, “Now you see me” so much I was looking forward to this entry.
When a Cambridge student dramatically attempts to take her own life, DI Mark Joesbury realizes that the university has developed an unhealthy record of young people committing suicide in extraordinary ways. Against huge personal misgivings, Joesbury sends young policewoman DC Lacey Flint to Cambridge, with a brief to work under-cover, posing as a depression-prone, vulnerable student. Psychiatrist Evi Oliver is the only person in Cambridge who knows who Lacey really is - or so they both hope. But as the two women dig deeper into the darker side of university life, they discover a terrifying trend ...And when Lacey starts experiencing the same disturbing nightmares reported by the dead girls, she knows that she is next.
The book opens with Flint accepting a simple undercover role of posing as a student at Cambridge University to investigate a series of suicides. Immediately the relationship she developed with DI Joesbury in the first book is reset as the two are forced to limit their contact. Their mutual feelings are still evident but Flint struggles with the fact that Joesbury is her senior officer.
The plot is the real winner here, as it soon becomes evident that there is more to the suicides then meets the eye. It appears that the victims are being encouraged to take their own lives as they slowly lose their mind.
Before long Flint herself is targeted. This makes for an interesting dynamic as Flint starts to experience various strange phenomena which play on her worst fears. It is good as the reader is kept in the dark as they are not sure what is real or not - much like Flint.
The only other person who is aware of Flint’s task is Doctor Evi Oliver (in her second outing), a woman trapped in her own nightmare and confined to a wheelchair following an unfortunate ski accident. Evi is a good character and her own hallucinations add to the tensions.
The pace of the novel speeds up towards the end as Flint herself becomes slightly unhinged. I suppose this explains some of the silly mistakes she makes, but I did find myself frustrated at some of the clues she missed.
Overall though, this is a very good addition to the series and Bolton continues to be one of the authors I buy as soon as she releases a new book.
My rating: 8.4