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DEAD SCARED by S.J. Bolton

DEAD SCARED

By S.J. Bolton

Pub Date: June 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-60053-2
Publisher: Minotaur

Cambridge University under siege.

A rash of suicides—three this year, four last year, three the year before that—so exceeds the statistical norm that Scotland Yard has placed undercover agents at Cambridge University to find out what’s going on. DI Mark Joesbury, he of the turquoise eyes who sends DC Lacey Flint’s pulse racing (Now You See Me, 2011, etc.), has Lacey billeted as Laura Farrow in the St. John’s college room recently vacated when Bryony Carter was hospitalized for setting fire to herself. Bryony, a patient of Cambridge psychiatrist Evi Oliver, had been depressed, struggling with coursework and tormented by violent dreams of a sexual nature. Dr. Oliver, the only person at Cambridge aware of Laura’s real identity, thought that Bryony might have been goaded to self-immolation by websites encouraging suicide. Another student, Jessica, complains of bad dreams, sleeplessness, whispering voices and images of the things she’s most scared of: clowns. Will she attempt suicide too? Dr. Oliver herself isn’t sure what’s real and what’s delusion, and matters escalate when weird toys appear in her home, then disappear, as do e-mails and foggy messages on her mirror. Like the hounded others, Laura begins to feel that someone is watching her, creeping into her room at night and terrifying her. While Dr. Oliver and Laura try to puzzle out what’s happening, more die, perhaps urged on by someone using suicide as a murder method. Suspicion falls on a falconer and a man involved in the sadistic hazing of Laura. Will the women be driven to suicide by their deepest fears? Love triumphs, but barely.

Menacing and then some. But when the goose bumps recede, there are several major plot holes.