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There appears to be something sinister going on at Cambridge University, with a rise in the number of students committing suicide and if that wasn't bad enough, they choose to end their lives in twisted and increasingly violent ways.
Despite some personal misgivings, DI Mark Joesbury sends DC Lacey Flint to Cambridge University to pose undercover as 'Laura Farrow' - an insecure, depression-prone student. Her brief is NOT to investigate but to involve herself in life as a vulnerable student and report back to Joesbury, as Scotland Yard believe that someone might be preying on lonely and insecure students and either encouraging them to take their own lives via online forums or actually be luring them to their deaths.
Psychiatrist Evi Oliver is the only person at Cambridge University who knows who 'Laura' really is - or so they both hope. But Lacey Flint finds it hard not to investigate the suicides despite her instructions and as the two women dig deeper into the darker side of university life, they discover a terrifying trend.
And when Lacey starts to experience the same disturbing nightmares reported by the dead students prior to them taking their lives, she begins to realise that she may be next...
'Dead Scared' sounded like the kind of book I would enjoy when it was given to me by my daughter recently and I held back from reading it right away, keeping it to read on holiday recently instead.
I began reading whilst on the plane and wasn't initially hooked after the first few pages, but after picking it up again the next day to read some more, I found I quickly became hooked on this suspense-filled story and from then on found it difficult to put down. I had envisaged reading a little each day and making it last the week, but instead I finished it in two days leaving me with nothing to read for the rest of my holiday. I really found it so difficult to put down.
The chapters are short, which I found added to the suspense and made this story highly readable. The story is told from different points of view (first person, third person) by various characters and this chops and changes a bit, but I did not find it confusing or irritating in any way. In fact I cannot fault the writing style at all and I loved the way the story quickly drew me in after a few pages and how I just wanted to keep reading until the end. Indeed if I had been at home I think I would have read this book in just one sitting!
Even though I found the character of Lacey Flint a little irritating at times, the story and the suspense throughout more than made up for this.
It became obvious right away there was 'history' between Flint and Joesbury and I thought this may be elaborated upon but it wasn't and to be fair there was no real need to do so, but some readers may have find it disappointing that more background is not provided on their characters.
It was only when I finished reading the book and looked up other books to read by this author, I learned that Flint and Joesbury actually appear in another novel prior to this - 'Now You See Me'. It does not matter at all that you haven't read the previous book however, as this is definitely a stand alone novel, but I did personally think that maybe it would have been better to read Now You See Me first, as maybe it would help explain the chemistry between Joesbury and Flint a lot more here in this novel.
The story flowed exceptionally well from start to finish and it was only when it ended more abruptly than expected, I found I had some feelings of disappointment. The suspense had grown and grown and I felt the ending deserved more time than it got and I also found I had a couple of unanswered questions which is something that bugged me slightly. For instance one of the characters, a GP by the name of Nick Bell, gets close to 'Laura' yet he just seems forgotten at the end and no reference is made to what happens to their relationship and also I was left wondering how he got Laura's mobile number when she uses a different mobile. Yes I could probably come up with a few explanations how this occurred, but it would have been nice to know and so I thought this was something else which was left unexplained.
Psychiatrist Evi Oliver is also another character making a returning appearance and she was an interesting and enjoyable character, but I did think on a couple of occasions that both her and Laura were a bit slow on the uptake considering their job roles. I found myself wondering why they didn't realise some things sooner, as what becomes clear to the reader does not always seem clear to them until later, but this did add to the suspense somewhat as I found myself willing them to realise what was going on!
The story had a couple of twists and turns I didn't see coming and I liked the fact I was suspecting a lot of the characters and my suspicions weren't always right. There were a few surprises in store which I had not anticipated which more than made up for any slight niggles I had.
Overall 'Dead Scared' was a very enjoyable read and I am now going to look up other novels by S.J. Bolton. I would have loved to have awarded this book five stars, but I did think it ended too abruptly for my liking with a couple of unanswered questions which was slightly disappointing for me personally. For suspense and readability however, I loved reading this book and am happy to recommend to all lovers of crime and thriller fiction.