Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, we had a big party! Tina posted a remembrance of Alan Rickman. Heather reviewed a biography of Ada Lovelace, a computer programmer before computers were cool (or even existed in the real world). Mark reviewed the fourth book in the Hat Shop Mysteries, set in London — with a giveaway that’s over now. Sim continued her London explorations with a fascinating visit to the little-known Horniman Museum with terrific natural history displays. Becky reviewed two books for lovers of British mysteries: The Face of a Stranger and Silent Nights. Georgie shared a cozy gift basket for Christmas or other winter-time giving occasions. My post offered advice on how to visit Bletchley Park.
Book: Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication date: 2012
Source: Purchased as an e-book
Summary: Lacey Flint has special skills: she looks younger than a police detective is supposed to look and she possesses a pragmatism beyond her years. Those two characteristics make her perfect for an assignment to go undercover as a Cambridge student. Less perfect is her decidedly poverty-ridden childhood leaving her with a mostly self-taught background that gives her little in common with her privileged fellow students.
In Dead Scared, something is very wrong at Cambridge. Female students are committing suicide at an alarming rate using disturbingly violent means. The skills that Lacey Flint brings to the situation may be the only way to stop the suicides, but only if she doesn’t succumb herself.
Thoughts: I loved the first Lacey Flint Book, Now You See Me, with its Jack the Ripper theme. I kept hesitating to read further in the series because the two libraries I normally use don’t have them all and the volumes are quite expensive as e-books go. Plus, they’re darker novels than I normally read. But I kept looking at the next book in the series. Something about the narrative voice and the character of Lacey Flint kept pulling at me, like a craving. I finally caved in and bought the e-book. It was worth every penny for the the thrills and the virtual visit to Cambridge.
Her is Lacey Flint’s first impression of the place:
I was finding the whole city of Cambridge overwhelming. The grandeur of the ancient buildings, the secret gardens and the name-dropping wall plaques; the boys on bicycles, college scarves wrapped carelessly round their throats and the clear-skinned, plump-faced girls with their long limbs and intelligent eyes. Everything spoke of a world I would never truly understand, that I couldn’t even think of belonging to. And the red, navy and pale-blue college scarf I wore round my neck felt as though I’d stolen it. (p. 66)
And, here’s her first visit to the dining hall at her college:
I was trapped in a bubble of noise, of confident voices and the incessant chink of silverware. Surrounding me were pale faces above black robes, candles and floral arrangements, crystal goblets like raindrops along the starched linen, and all in a centuries-old dining hall in which Wordsworth and Wilberforce weren’t characters from history but alumni….
‘Lady’s first time in Hall, cut her some slack,’ said the second-year physics student on my right. He’d taken pity on me earlier as I’d stood at the painted-arched doorway, feeling like an extra in a Harry Potter movie in my borrowed gown. (pp. 70, 71)
Cambridge was on my list to visit when we went to England in 2014, but we never made it there. So, that puts it near the top of the list for the next trip. My plan is to go on the London Walks day trip that begins at King’s Cross railway station in London. Here’s a video with bits and pieces of that tour:
Appeal: Author Sharon Bolton is so good at invoking place that I think this is a terrific series for British Isles Friday folks. The first book was set in London and I felt like I was there when I was reading it. The Lacey Flint series is best read in order because of the development of the main character and a slow-moving romance. Book 1 is Now You See Me. Dead Scared is Book 2. The third book, set back in London, appears to have two titles — Like This, For Ever and Lost. I’m guessing that the first is the UK title and the second is the US title.
Have you read this book? What did you think?