Dead Scared (Lacey Flint #2) by S.J. Bolton – Off the Shelf

“Off the Shelf” are reviews of books that I have quite literally taken off my bookshelf (or kindle).  They are not new releases but books I have been wanting to read or series I am trying to complete and are books that I know I am likely to enjoy.


deadA Twisted and Thrilling 4 Stars 

How would react if you were consistently terrorized with your deepest fears and phobias.  Would you be able to maintain your sanity if you were subjected to a reign of terror that no one but yourself believed.  Dead Scared explores the circumstances that might take a person to the ultimate breaking point.

While I continue to take some issue with the author’s storytelling methods, the overall effect is a superb and thrilling novel.  I can live with a few warts.

Plot summary

After solving the mystery of the Jack the Ripper copycat killings, our intrepid hero, Lacey Flint, is drafted by the undercover unit.  There has been a rash of suicides at Cambridge University which bring the local rate far above the national average.  The University counsellor fears there is a subculture of vulnerable students being pushed to suicide by other disturbed parties.  Lacey goes back to school as an undercover agent and investigates the counsellors concerns.  As the story progresses, Lacey is forced to face her own fears and insecurities forcing her to question whether she herself has become a target or if she is indeed going crazy.

The Good

The Winner for Most Improved Is…

I was critical of the choppy and disjointed storytelling in the previous novel.  This installment shows considerable growth in the series and the story is far more organized and internally consistent.  The story does not leave the reader behind and the author has improved the character development.  Unlike the first, characters are not summarily abandoned and we are able to follow the story arc of each person.

Its Easy on the Eyes

S.J. Bolton is a talented writer.  I find no serious fault in her writing ability but rather the manner in which she stings the reader along.  She writes in a colorful and vibrant prose that keeps you reading despite some absurdities in the plot.  It is a sign of a great author that can keep you readings despite a ridiculous story.

The Bad

Can Someone Pass the String

The average reader is not stupid (I don’t have the statistics on this so you will just have to take my word) so don’t string us along.  The author is talented enough to create tension and thrills with her style of writing.  Instead, the story strings us along with the knowledge that her superiors are hiding facts from her (and us).  While I don`t mind that the character is not fully informed, we are not let in on any of the secrets until the end.  The author attempts to use this one plot device to sustain suspense through the entire story.  Unfortunately, this one point is distracting and give the story of a level of unbelievability.  Speaking of that…

Use that String to Suspend your Belief

The premises was somewhat unbelievable.  The idea that Lacey was put into a situation without any information whatsoever was hard enough to buy.  It was far more difficult to accept that she was not informed when the situation really started to get out of hand.  My difficulty with this is that it did not seem to fit within the world that had been created.  She was brought into the investigation by a man that is clearly in love with her and a police force that apparently had respect for her.  Personally, I don`t mind suspending my belief if these types of novels.  I was a big fan of The Likeness and that plot was far more absurd than this one.

Final Thoughts

While I continue to take issue with the authors storytelling and some of the plot devices she uses, I cannot help but be entertained by the book.  The story is taunt and dark and Lacey is an interesting and strong female lead.  Being the father of two girls, I am always looking for and happy to find books that have a strong female protagonist.  My issues are largely outweighed by the author’s superb writing and attributable to my personal preferences.  I highly recommend this series.

Audiobook Notes

As in the first book, the Narration is 5 Star Narration.  Very well done and pleasant for the ears.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested.  I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 – Lowest     5 – Highest

Sex 3

There is significant discussion of rape.  There are multiple characters who believe they have subjected to rape while they were sleeping.  While there are no graphic descriptions some readers will not appreciate this content as it is disturbing.  There a minor amount of other non-graphic discussion of sex.

Language 2.5

There is some minor use of mild obscenities and some minor use of the f-word.  There is less adult language than in the first installment.

Violence 4.5

Much of the violence in this story is self inflicted.  There are multiple instances of suicide, some of which are graphic.  There is internal discussion of self harming which will be disturbing for some readers.  There is also discussion of sexual violence.  While the descriptions are not graphic, the context of the violence is disturbing.  The final chapters have some particularly graphic images in which a character is faced with some situations of terror.  There is some gore involved.   When the mystery is eventually solved it is disturbing.  Overall, the violence is not pervasive as in the first installment and less disturbing.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.