Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton (Lacey Flint #2)

Dead Scared is the second book in the Lacey Flint series by Sharon Bolton. Having read all the 5 books (4 main books and the shorter novella), I have to admit that this second installment is my absolute favorite so far.

After the scary events in book 1, Now You See Me, Lacey is still working at the police as a detective, and now she is sent undercover to Cambridge, as a student, to mingle with folks and observe. Her boss (and love interest) DI Mark Joesbury, is not all that thrilled to send her undercover, however, others have more say in it, so he has no choice but to do it.

Lacey is to pose as a rather scared and troubled young woman called Laura Farrow. There are a series of suicides at the campus that seems to be fishy enough to be worth investigating. As Lacey has a troubled past and she has quite a baggage of her own to carry, she doesn’t need to fake her fragile state very much.

The only other person who knows her true identity and why she is there is dr. Evi Oliver, a psychiatrist working at the campus, who is wheelchair bound herself.

Lacey is strictly forbidden to investigate, and she is told she only has to observe and report back her findings to Mark. Soon, however, she notices some really disturbing things going on at the campus, and she feels that has no choice but to investigate, much to the distress and anger of her superiors, including Mark Joesbury.

Soon – true to her character – Lacey finds herself into more trouble than she can handle, and her life, especially considering her fragile state of mind due to her very troubled past, is in real danger as well. Having to face ones most real and deepest fears make it quite difficult to not want to commit suicide herself, as Lacey finds out. Especially when students (including her) seem to be manipulated by outside forces that want only to harm.

But who would want to harm the students and why? This is what Lacey – despite her own fears and despite the warnings from her bosses – decides to figure out on her own, with dr. Evi’s help.

The story is creepy at times, quite haunting and it’s a great example of a well written gothic mystery. It really sucks you in, making you face your own fears while reading. There are not many dull moments, and you find flipping the pages just to figure out who, what, when and why, right along with Lacey.

It does take Lacey a while to realize that what is happening to the students is related to what is going on with dr. Evi, but once she makes the connection, she can’t be stopped from following the leads, despite Mark’s express orders. What Lacey doesn’t know, however, is that there is more to the whole story, things that Mark hasn’t shared with her about the campus at all.

The more she investigates, the weirder things start to look and happen even to her. Some horrible and creepy things, making her doubt her own reality.

Dead Scared is quite the gruesome thriller, and what makes it a bit lighter is the growing relationship between Lacey and Mark. Lacey is really head over heels in love with him and Mark seems to share her sentiments as well. No wonder he wants her out of harm’s way.

While the story is quite strong, what really shines here are the characters. Lacey, Mark, dr Evi, they are all flawed, but strong characters. The author devotes them quite a lot of space in the book which helps us connect to them in a special way. I’ve read that dr. Evi also features in Sharon Bolton’s standalone novel Blood Harvest, a book which I intend to read soon as well.

Overall Dead Scared was indeed just as scary as the title promised us, with a dash of romance mixed in, just enough to keep us in balance and not fall into the same suicidal thoughts so many students at Cambridge seems to feel.

Other books by Sharon Bolton: Now You See Me, If Snow Hadn’t Fallen, Like This Forever, A Dark and Twisted Tide

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