Scared To Death by Kate Medina

Detective Inspector Bobby “Marilyn” Simmons is searching for the father of a baby, found abandoned outside a hospital. The baby’s father’s eldest son committed suicide at a local army base a year earlier and Simmons is concerned that the father has similar intentions.

Stephen Foster, a trainee soldier, has been found in the woods near to the same army base, stabbed in the neck. Captain Ben Callan of the military police finds himself searching both for the killer and the person who tried to save Foster’s life. But why hasn’t the potential saviour come forward?

And Dr Jessie Flynn, consulting on both cases, is also asked to speak to a soldier from the base. His name has been put forward as a potential suicide risk. As links become apparent between the three cases, it seems that something is casting a sinister shadow over Blackdown Barracks and soon someone else’s life will be in danger…

I reviewed Fire Damage, the first Jessie Flynn book recently, and it was a pleasure to get the opportunity to take a look at the second book in this series. It’s a complex thriller that takes its time to generate real three dimensional characters in Flynn and Callan and also takes its time to look at some serious issues.

But Kate Medina has also crafted a clever mystery tale, more than a whodunit, but more of a what-the-hell-is-going-on-and-who-did-what tale that keeps the reader turning the page throughout. Flynn and Callan may be damaged heroes, but they never fall into stereotype and there is clearly much more of their story to tell.

Plotwise, it does take a little too long for our heroes to even consider that the deaths might be related, but that’s not an uncommon complaint in crime fiction, but I did find myself waiting for the characters to start looking at the big picture. But the wait was worth it, as the overall story is deeply satisfying and moving.

A complex mystery and an emotional story – inspired perhaps by the Deepcut deaths? – and well worth your time. Highly Recommended.

Scared to Death was released on May 4th by Harper Collins.

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