Gloria Feit's Reviews > Dead Scared

Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton
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Oct 26, 12

Read on October 26, 2012

The brief prologue sets the scene for the reader: Near midnight; one of the tallest towers in Cambridge, England; D.I. Mark Joesbury, racing up the stairs to its roof; and a young woman perched near the ledge at the top. And then the reader is brought back eleven days in time to see how they got there, with a 1st person p.o.v. of D.C. Lacey Flint, which alternates with third-person perspectives. Flint has been “loaned out” from the Southwark Police to the Special Crimes Directorate of the Metropolitan Police which deals with covert ops, typically being sent on “difficult and dangerous situations.” As we are introduced to them, the slightly flirtatious banter underlying their meetings hints at the least of a possible romantic entanglement between them at some point in the relatively recent past.

Lacey goes undercover as a student at Cambridge University after the latest in a number of suicides, with a suspicion that there is more than meets the eye. The death was only the latest of three suicides during the current academic year. The only one outside of her police colleagues who knows the truth is Dr. Evi Oliver, head of student counseling. The belief is that there is “something decidedly sinister” going on. Lacey’s remit is to “keep a lookout for any unhealthy subculture that might be unduly influencing young people.”

Initially Lacey feels out of her element: “I knew I’d never get used to it,” in a place where “Wordsworth and Wilberforce weren’t characters from history but alumni.” But she is there to do a job, and it becomes increasingly urgent. Within several days, one more death occurs. And further investigation indicates that there have been a total of nineteen suicides over the past five years, far more than the general statistics on suicide would bear out. And the manner of death chosen is not what might be expected, including self-immolation by one girl and another who’d decapitated herself. As the days go on, whatever is going on threatens to ensnare Lacey herself.

This is a book at once not an easy read and yet difficult to put down, much more so on both counts as the book progresses. The fifth novel from Ms. Bolton, this is the first I have read, but it will certainly not be the last. It is a nail-biter, beautifully written, and highly recommended.
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