Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-0312600532
June 5, 2012, 384 pages
Up on the tower, it’s cold. The January chill comes drifting over
the Fens and wraps itself across the city like a paedophile’s hand
round that of a small, unresisting child. The woman isn’t dressed for
winter but seems to be unaware of the cold. She blinks and suddenly
those dead eyes have tears in them....
He feels the cold air just as he sees the door at the top. He’s out
on the roof before he has any idea what he’s going to do if he’s too
late and she’s already jumped. Or what the hell he’ll do if she hasn’t.
‘Lacey,’ he yells. ‘No!’
University students, especially at a place like Cambridge, are under a great deal of stress, away from home and often lonely, a great deal of pressure to succeed, so suicide is not unknown. But Doctor Evi Oliver, head to the student counseling department, suspect something else, something even more scary may be going on. The number of suicides, the large percentage of females victims, and the unusual methods they use, makes the Cambridge psychiatrist concerned enough to approach London police about her fears. She thinks that somehow, someone, is egging vulnerable young women on, taking advantage of their worse, most personal fears, to get them to commit this final, most drastic act.
As part of the investigation, DI Mark Joesbury recruits DC Lacey Flint to go undercover, pretending to be a new university student, moving into the room of the last..and barely surviving...victim, a girl who set fire to herself. But as readers of Bolton's last excellent book, Now You See Me, knows, Lacey, while a great investigator, is not without her our issues, her own fears, her own weaknesses. Not least of which is her unrequited love for Joesbury.
Playing the role of a vulnerable student is not that difficult, but when Lacey starts having the same violent dreams, the same lost hours, the same sort of night terrors that so many of the young woman reported before they killed themselves, we start to wonder if Lacey is the pursuer...or the next victim.
Yes, I was a fan of Bolton's previous book, her fourth, Now You See Me. While I am not a huge Jack the Ripper fan, a central aspect of that book, I still loved it. It is a book that was able to draw on the whole Ripper mythology and yet add a fresh and exciting twist. So when I saw that this one, Dead Scared, would continue the story of that books two main characters, Joesbury and Flint, I was excited. Would this one be as good? In a word..Yes! Yes, it is indeed.
Bolton creates a great plot here. Just when I though I knew what was going on, the story takes a big right turn and knocks all my suppositions right out the window. It is scary and at times rather dark, as a book that explores people's greatest fears should be, yet it is also smart and fast paced, with a strong dash of creepy thrown in. A very entertaining combination in my opinion.
And it contains a great dog, always a plus for me!
So many great characters... Joesbury and Flint, back from Now You See Me and Dr. Oliver, herself a very tormented woman, back from Bolton's third book Blood Harvest. Partially crippled in a terrible skiing accident, in constant pain, at times is it hard to know whether she is the book's heroine or another potential victim. And then we have a great supporting cast, many of whom are just weird enough to have us wondering if they are friend or foe. We will not be sure until we race to the end of the book. And race you will, because I will assure you, this one is a page turner!
For Bolton fans, another great book you will want to grab. For those unfamiliar with her books, a great standalone, a great introduction to the work of a very good writer of psychological thrillers.
My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book for review.