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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and intelligent thriller
I'll admit I was a bit concerned when SJ Bolton seemed to be turning to more straightforward detective fiction with her last book Now You See Me, as I'd enjoyed her previous horror/psychological thrillers so much. I had a similar doubts when Kate Atkinson introduced her Jackson Brodie character, but now I absolutely love him and I'm starting to feel the same way about...
Published on 23 Jan. 2012 by Denise4891

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars S.J. Bolton is in the business of making our flesh creep
Books such as Sacrifice and Blood Harvest demonstrated how comfortable she is with the orchestration of tension. Dead Scared is constructed in prismatic fashion, with each brief segment creating a chilling totality. If the theme here is familiar - the mysterious suicides of undergraduate students - the treatment is decidedly original.

The unfortunately named...
Published on 25 April 2012 by Phil Nind


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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and intelligent thriller, 23 Jan. 2012
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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I'll admit I was a bit concerned when SJ Bolton seemed to be turning to more straightforward detective fiction with her last book Now You See Me, as I'd enjoyed her previous horror/psychological thrillers so much. I had a similar doubts when Kate Atkinson introduced her Jackson Brodie character, but now I absolutely love him and I'm starting to feel the same way about Bolton's enigmatic creation, DC Lacey Flint.

This is the second outing for Flint and her boss/love interest, DI Mark Joesbury. In Now You See Me, Lacey was portrayed as a sociopathic loner and it was only at the very end of the book that we got any insight into who she really was and why she lived her life in such a reckless and dangerous way. In Dead Scared (possibly because of what she went through last time round?) she's a much more open, accessible character and the Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and Joesbury is ratcheted up several notches as they investigate a spate of suicides amongst the bright young things in a Cambridge college.

The deaths don't fit any recognised pattern; the students are female and are killing themselves in increasingly violent and and creative ways, including self-immolation and decapitation. Lacey goes undercover to inveigle her way into college life and gain the trust of those who knew the victims, her only confidant being college psychiatrist, Evi Oliver who was close to several of the women on a professional basis and is just as keen to find out why they're ending their seemingly fulfilling and promising lives.

SJB fans might recognise Evi Oliver as the psychiatrist who wandered into a web of dark and cultish goings-on in a remote Lancashire village in Bolton's third novel, Blood Harvest, and a couple more characters from that book also put in brief appearances. However, it's absolutely 100% not necessary to have read any of her previous work in order to enjoy this book for what it is - an exciting and intelligent thriller with a breakneck pace, particularly towards the end as Lacey and Evi's investigations unearth some shocking secrets and the tension is cranked up even further. For my money there isn't any unnecessary padding or scene-setting, and the nail-biting ending is very satisfying but also fairly open - leaving a lot of unfinished business between Lacey and Joesbury and at least two other characters, which I look forward to reading more of in the next instalment. (And on a lighter note, there's a lovely dog called Sniffy who I'd love to see making a reappearance too!)

So that's five out of five crackers from SJ Bolton now; she can't put a foot wrong as far as I'm concerned.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Lacey., 7 July 2013
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
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So, we come to the second book to feature Lacey Flint and as I adored her in the first novel (Now you See Me) I was really looking forward to this one. As expected, it was terrific.

In this outing we find Lacey heading undercover in Cambridge where a spate of suicides has rocked the College. Posing as a student, her brief is to appear fragile and wait to see what happens. With each suicide becoming more violent and creative, Lacey is determined to discover what is going on...despite being told she is not there to investigate, investigate she does. Of course.

What I love about S J Bolton is the way she slowly but surely builds the tension over the course of her books until you can barely breathe - towards the end of this book I was completely lost in the tale, frantically turning pages to get to the end before my heart gave out. I found the ongoing tension between Lacey and Joesbury well written - although just a small note - I hope Ms Bolton doesnt keep the "will they won't they" theme between these characters ongoing for TOO long over the course of the Flint novels because, much as in television shows where they do the same, eventually it can get dull and the reader loses interest. That is for the future - for now, their relationship is still intriguing and because of their separate personalities it makes for a good "sub" plot. I was also extremely pleased to see Evie again (Blood Harvest) and the introduction of a new character, a possible love interest for Lacey made me look forward to finding out what happens next in her life. The resolution was clever if abrupt and very satisfying.

Ms Boltons plotting is superb - some of the best I've found in crime novels. I know some readers were worried about her move into more straightforward crime fiction but I, for one, think that STILL her books are atmospheric and haunting - this one in particular was both of those things and so crime fiction or not, the ambience is the same. Brilliant. More please.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another cracker from S.J. Bolton, 22 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Dead Scared: Lacey Flint Series, Book 2 (Paperback)
This book has it all - Cambridge (always a great setting for a story, so much history), Lacey Flint, Mark Joesbury (great to see their 'relationship' developing), PLUS Evi Oliver (who was last seen in Blood Harvest) who I absolutely love... not to mention a weird series of potential suicides that look like anything but... Setting yourself on fire, being one of the most extreme examples. Lacey manages to pull off her undercover role of student well, and I could relate to the strangeness of her situation - the details of life in a Cambridge college being particularly well described. Lots of tension, loads of suspects and a killer ending. Can't wait for the next one.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spine-tingling..., 22 Jan. 2012
By 
FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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With this second instalment of her Lacey Flint series, SJ Bolton has set herself a new standard - one that ensures her place amongst the very best of contemporary crime writers.

Although I enjoyed the first in the series, Now You See Me, I had some reservations around both style and characterisation. But not with this one. Scary enough to be truly spine-tingling, well-plotted enough to keep the suspense going throughout and with some really funny moments to lighten the tone, Bolton has given us a real treat of a novel. I felt the lead character, detective Lacey Flint, has been changed quite a bit since her last outing and for the better. She has become a more open, much more likeable character, less of a loner and now with a sense of humour and considerably less angst - all to the good. Her interaction with Evi Oliver, student counsellor, is very convincing as is her relationship, both personal and professional, with DI Mark Joesbury.

The plot about a spate of students committing suicide couldn't be much darker, and there are bits that are very unsettling and downright creepy. Bolton handles the tension masterfully right up to the end and certainly left this reader hoping that the series will continue for some time to come. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very scary!!, 3 April 2012
By 
SJSmith (UK) - See all my reviews
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This book made me feel exactly like the title suggest. I was dead scared whilst reading it and it takes a lot to freak me out with crime books. This is now my third SJ Bolton book after reading Now You See Me (also with the same characters as this book) and Sacrifice and like those, this is top notch. Set in Cambridge, the book sees DC Lacey Flint posing as a vulnerable, depression-prone student who is sent there by DI Mark Joesbury to work undercover as the university has a record of students coming suicide in extraordinary ways.

The story is definitely plot driven but the characters are great. My only criticism is that I can't really visualise them all of the time as SJ Bolton has a tendency to go overboard on silly details like the colour of Joesbury's eyes for example. For me, the relationship between Joesbury and Lacey (both professional and potentially personal) is over-egged somewhat but I appreciate it adds to the drama of the novel. Whilst you have an idea who will make it to the end of the novel and who won't; there are some great twists in the tale along the way. The extremely abrupt ending clearly leaves it open for a third outing for the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping police procedural, 17 Feb. 2012
By 
Champollion (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
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SJ Bolton's "Dead Scared," follows on from her best selling "Now You See Me," and marks the re-appearance of detective constable Lacey Flint and detective Inspector Mark Joesbury, from that novel, this time investigating a disturbing number of apparent suicides in the leafy, academic setting of Cambridge. This setting provides the perfect backdrop for a twisting and tense police drama.

In this tale, Lacey Flint, goes undercover to solve, what is going on, and this in itself, makes for gripping reading. The style of telling the story from different characters perspective in alternative chapters keeps you engaged and wanting more.

It is a well constructed, page- turning police procedural, and although there are references to her earlier novels that the main characters were involved in, this did not prevent my enjoyment of this fine thriller. I particularly liked the fact that the characters were believable and credible, which not only drove the plot line but also added to it's authenticity. There are enough false trails and red herrings to keep you guessing till the very end.

On the basis of 'the evidence' in this book, I will be 'hunting down' SJ Bolton's earlier work. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cambridge University has never been so frightening, 21 Feb. 2012
By 
Wobette (The Wild West) - See all my reviews
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Lacey is a tough 20-something who is from the school of hard knocks

Laura is about to start her first term at Cambridge

Lacey is a battle-weary DC from London who can handle anything

Laura is just scared and out of her depth...

The only thing is that Laura and Lacey are the same person.

When Lacey is sent undercover to monitor events surrounding a string of strange suicides at Cambridge University, she finds herself wanting to help and investigate, not realising she is being kept in the dark by her superiors.

As events unwind, she doesn't know who she can trust, Evi, the Student Counsellor who also seem to be going mad, the good lucking but suspious GP Nick or the boss she carries a torch for - Mark Joesbury.

Pushed to the edge of insanity, Lacey faces a race against time to save herself from the forces at work.

A great read which will have you at the edge of your seat, it has a range of short and long chapters which keep you on your toes as you follow the characters as they dry and discover what is going on in the colleges of Cambridge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming a 'must read' series, 7 April 2013
By 
Stacey Woods (Poole, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dead Scared: Lacey Flint Series, Book 2 (Paperback)
I reviewed S.J. Bolton's first Lacey Flint novel, Now You See Me, a while back and said at the end the I was looking forward to reading the second book, Dead Scared. I have now done so and I have to say that it is equally as riveting and beautifully crafted as that first book.

DC Lacey Flint, barely finished with her previous Jack the Ripper case, is asked to go undercover at Cambridge University, where a spate of student suicides has one of the college counsellors concerned. Ordinarily there'd be no case, but counsellor Evi Oliver is an old friend of Lacey's boss, DI Tulloch so it becomes a case. Under normal circumstances, Lacey would go nowhere near a case where vulnerable girls, too much like her, are killing themselves, but when DI Mark Joesbury asks her to go, she agrees without question.

Yet again, S.J. Bolton has crafted a brilliantly twisty novel that leads you down one path, before slapping you in the face and turning you back in the other direction. Enough hints are dropped to allow you to think that you're ahead of the game, but all the time the novel isn't even about what you think it's about.

S.J. Bolton's cast of regular characters are fewer in number, as the novel is based outside London, but this allows us to get closer to Flint and DI Joesbury, with the seeds of a `will-they-won't-they' relationship firmly sown; we know that they love each other, but neither is willing to put themselves on the line and admit it. I love the dynamic of their relationship, but can't help secretly wishing that they'd get together - what can I say? I like my heroines to be happy!

The Lacey Flint books are fast becoming a must-read series for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guaranteed to chill you to the bone, 5 April 2013
Christ, why is it that every time I try to write about S.J. Bolton's books I'm at a loss for words (and then end up writing a whole novella)? There are so many things I'd love to say, yet, I don't want to give anything, not even a tiny hint, away in the hope that you'll pick them up and read them. Because what I can't possibly emphasize more is that they are brilliant, unputdownable and are guaranteed to chill you to the bone.

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series and an accompanying e-book short story, I couldn't wait to pick up Dead Scared and find out how Lacey Flint's story continues. While I'm normally quite wary of sequels and am often disappointed by them after a brilliant first book, this one was just as twisted, haunting and well-written as Now You See Me and If Snow Hadn't Fallen were and completely lived up to my expectations.

A good story, for me, is made up of three things. Firstly, and most importantly, I have to feel safe in the knowledge that I'm in the hands of a great writer. In these cases, the writing is so effortless and so engaging that I know for certain that nothing can and will go wrong, that it will all be neatly wrapped up in the end, it won't leave me feeling puzzled or wanting more. A good book also needs to leave a lasting impression. These are the books that, once I finish them, I don't feel like reading anything for a couple of days or even a week, purely because the characters are still with me long after I finished the last chapter and I'm still reliving what I've been reading in the past couple of days. Thirdly, an exceptionally good book for me is so intriguing, so full of twists and turns that it makes me want to keep on reading despite the fact that it's half past three in the morning and I have to get up in just a few hours. Dead Scared ticks all these boxes. If there's an author who knows how to keep you reading long after your bedtime and - sorry for putting it like this - scare you s***less with such ease and without excessive violence, it's definitely S.J. Bolton. And I mean this in the best possible way.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this particular book (and the whole series, for that matter) is the fact that it keeps you on the edge from start to finish. There are no dull moments in the story, no unnecessary facts or background information that is unnecessary for solving the mystery. There are a great deal of red herrings to make sure that you're taken by surprise when the case is solved and the killers'/killers' identity is revealed and an even greater amount of foreshadowing which makes it an unputdownable white-knuckle ride. And a terrifying one at that. Despite the fact that many people claim its opposite, it's definitely not a character-driven book, if you ask me. The appeal of this novel lies not with its intricate background stories and complex characters but its twisty, edgy, unpredictable plot. Mind you, it doesn't mean the characters are shallow or one dimensional. Quite the opposite, actually. They still remain absolutely believable, common, everyday people we can all relate to - which makes the story itself feel so much more creepier and much more real. Another thing I've already mentioned in my review of the first book and something I particularly like about Bolton's books is the fact that you can feel how much research went into writing these stories which, again, makes them a lot more real and frightening. While we had detailed descriptions of the Jack the Ripper myth and all his/her victims in Now You See Me, the author gives a thoroughly detailed account of how these suicides (or murders?) are committed in Dead Scared. And this is where I'm going to be very vague because revealing how people are killing themselves (or are being killed) would mean revealing the whole mystery behind the book, but let's just say all these details and the fact that it's all so well-researched makes it so much harder for us to separate fiction from reality.

Also, as a side note, whoever did the cover for the UK edition of both Dead Scared and Now You See Me did a brilliant job. Both of them reflect the creepy, haunting atmosphere of the books and fit the stories perfectly, I think. I would also add, because some of you have been asking me this, that even though it's the second book in the Lacey Flint series, I don't think it's necessary to read them in order or feel agitated if you haven't read Now You See Me yet. Reading the first book gives you a bit of background knowledge of the two main characters - Lacey and her boss Mark - and what happened a few months before this story starts but since neither NYSM or Dead Scared are character-driven books and are two completely different stories, even if you're not familiar with the previous one, you should be fine.

I would love to be able to say I managed to figure out who's behind these deaths but for the most part I was suspecting people who ended up dead or became targets themselves so I think we can say I failed beautifully. (It's not impossible to figure it out, mind, it's just that a) everyone's behaviour seems mighty shifty and b) I tend to suspect nice people because frankly, being nice and innocent-looking in a thriller is suspicious in itself. However, this theory doesn't always seem to work out) As for the reason behind people's deaths (Holy Mother of God...) and the ending that took me completely by surprise... let's just say reading it in a pitch-dark room in an empty and silent flat at three in the morning wasn't such a good idea and I've no intention of visiting Cambridge anytime soon.

Anyway, to put an end to my gushing and to sum up my rather vague review, Dead Scared is a truly memorable, chilling read which I, after staying up until the crack of dawn and reading more or less non-stop, managed to finish in just two days. It's a combination of unique writing, a haunting atmosphere, an intricate plot, an arresting opening and a surprising ending - it's an absolute must-read, one I can't possibly recommend more highly than this. Trust me, it's fantastic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, spooky and gripping, 2 July 2012
Dead Scared is the fifth book by S.J. Bolton and the second with DC Lacey Flint as the main protagonist.
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.
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Dead Scared: Lacey Flint Series, Book 2
Dead Scared: Lacey Flint Series, Book 2 by Sharon Bolton (Paperback - 31 Jan. 2013)
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