Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Paperback, 464 pgs
Source: Personal Library
I started this book without knowing that this is part of a series, but that is fine since the story could be read as a standalone. In fact, I am going to read the first book (and the rest of the series) anyway because Dead Scared is simply awesome!
It all started with a spate of suicides at Cambridge University. Several female students had dramatically attempted suicide over the years and the gruesome thing is, they had all ended their life in extraordinary (and cruel) ways, i.e. jumping from high buildings, self-immolation, self-stabbing and self-decapitation, etc.
DI Mark Joesury and his team realize that things are more than meet the eye, thus he sends young policewoman, DC Lacey Flint, to the university as undercover. Lacey would pose as a vulnerable and depression-prone student and they would see how things would churn out from there. Dr Evi Oliver, a psychiatrist who counsels the students there, is the only person who knows the true identity of Lacey. Initially, the two women thought the students who attempted suicides are delusional or simply a cry for attention, but what they didn't understand is why they had chosen a terrible way to end their lives. They speculated that there might be a destructive subculture that is manifest largely on the internet; a virtual world that legitimised and even glamorised the act of suicide.
As they dig deeper, they realised that things aren't what they seemed or they had expected. Someone (or a few very sick people) seems to have orchestrated the death of the students and they had made it look like the students had ended their own lives. Lacey reported what she had speculated to DI Mark Joesury but they have no valid evidence to proof that. By that moment, someone has tried to scare Dr Evi Oliver, knowing that she is semi-crippled from her skiing accident years ago and that she has a past that still haunts her; they had cleverly use these knowledge to remind her of her phobias so that her credentials would be questioned. And that is not all, Lacey, who has a fragile past herself, soon have the killers' attention or did she just walk into their deadly game on her own?
Dead Scared is one of the most intense and clever crime thrillers I read for a while. Not only it is gripping but the story is multi-layered and it leads you to more speculations as you flip those pages. It had me hooked from page one till the end as there is never a bored moment. What I also liked about this book is the characterisations, no doubt. DC Lacey Flint is a very brave woman, I would say, considering she had had a very tough mission (from the first book, which is briefly mentioned and she nearly couldn't make it) and it didn't take her long to consider taking up this case, as a vulnerable student and one that couldn't allow her to use her authority. Her relationship between DI Mark Joesury is ambiguous, as it seems they do have feelings for each other, but neither of them shows or admits it, but then I find that's the beauty of it as there is always something sweet about reading a relationship develops (even if it is subtle).
I wish I am eloquent in describing Dead Scared, but after fidgeted for what more to say I could only think of "Wow!" and nothing more. In my dictionary, that is suffice to cover the overview of this book. Go-read-it!
* Sharon Bolton is also known as S.J. Bolton under other publication.