In Dead Scared, Lacey is sent undercover to Cambridge University where there have been a number of student suicides. DC Flint assumes the identity of an emotionally vulnerable young woman – the profile of those who have recently died. She is sent purely to gather information and report back, but as she begins to be affected by the deaths she can’t help but become involved.
The suicide victims at first seem to have nothing in common, but thanks to Lacey ignoring orders and conducting her own investigations, it becomes clear that each of the deceased shared the same disturbing experiences in the weeks before their deaths: according to their friends and housemates, they all believed that they had been violated while they slept and had their greatest fears used against them.
Lacey soon finds herself targeted and experiencing the same horrors of the other students in the run up to their deaths.
Ms. Bolton has written a book that cannot help but send shivers down one’s spine. I have a daughter who is considering applying to Cambridge so reading this book was, for me, an ordeal. The mental tortures visited upon the victims are written in such a way that the reader is unsure whether the culprits are paranormal, real or the paranoid delusions of disturbed minds. There are red herrings aplenty and I found myself suspecting everyone but the dog, Sniffy, of being onvolved.
Lacey Flint is an enjoyably complex character. She has a complicated and sexually charged relationship with her boss, DI Joesbury and has a past where she actively sought casual sex from numerous strangers. She is passionate, intelligent and tough, yet shows great empathy with the weak and victimised.
I haven’t read Now You See Me, the author’s previous book, but after reading Dead Scared, I have it on my To Be Read list. Highly recommended.