Book Review: Scared to Death by Kate Medina

I was intrigued by the premise of this book about a serial killer recreating famous horror movie murders. Overall, I found it to be an entertaining and fast-paced read, though not without some flaws.

Scared to Death by Kate Medina

TitleScared to Death
AuthorKate Medina
GenreCrime, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publication DateMay 4, 2017
Length335 pages

Where to Purchase

The Plot

The story follows Detective Jessie Flynn investigating a string of murders in Seattle that resemble famous horror movie deaths. The first victim is killed in a way that mimics a scene from Psycho. More victims soon start turning up killed in the styles of other classic horror films. Jessie and her partner Detective Ben Morrison race to find the killer before he can claim more lives.

As the body count rises, Jessie starts noticing connections between the victims. She digs into their pasts and discovers they were all members of an internet forum devoted to horror films. She believes the killer is someone they knew from the forums seeking revenge. But they have no leads on the killer’s real identity.

Adding to the tension, Jessie is dealing with disturbing nightmares that seem to connect to the murders. The lack of sleep makes it harder for her to focus on catching the killer. In a final shocking twist, the killer’s identity is revealed, along with his motives for the horror movie-inspired murders.

What I Liked

I’m a big fan of horror movies, so I appreciated the premise of basing the murders off famous horror film scenes. It was fun trying to guess which movie was being referenced as each new victim was discovered. The author did a good job capturing the tone and creep factor of classic horror films in her descriptions of the crime scenes.

I also liked the character of Jessie Flynn. She came across as a dedicated, no-nonsense detective trying to catch a deranged killer. Her backstory as a child crime witness gave her character depth and helped explain her drive for justice. She’s an appealing protagonist to follow through this increasingly terrifying investigation.

The pacing of the story was quick and engaging. Short chapters ending in cliffhangers made it difficult to put the book down. I found myself racing through the pages trying to find out the killer’s identity and motive before Jessie and her partner could.

Areas for Improvement

While I was entertained by Scared to Death overall, there were a few things that could have been improved. The biggest issue for me was that the killer’s motives and backstory felt a bit contrived once revealed. I won’t give any spoilers, but the “why” behind the murders didn’t fully track for me.

I also thought the developing romance between Jessie and her partner Ben felt forced. Their relationship didn’t seem to organically develop and the sudden professions of love rang hollow to me as a reader. I was more interested in the mystery than this underdeveloped romantic subplot.

Additionally, some of the horror movie references were surface-level and obvious. For readers well-versed in horror, I would have liked to see some more obscure deep cuts represented. When the connections were more blatant, it took some of the guessing fun out of it.

Final Thoughts

For horror fans, Scared to Death offers an engaging whodunit with fun references to some of the great horror films. The protagonist Jessie Flynn is likable and relatable, even if the romance subplot falls a bit flat. While the killer’s motivations didn’t feel fully coherent to me, I still found the reveal satisfying after following Jessie’s investigation from start to finish. All in all, it delivered what I wanted in an entertaining page-turner of a thriller. I’ll be looking forward to checking out more from Kate Medina in the future.


  • Paula Davis

    Paula Davis is a dedicated and seasoned content writer for Dreaming and Reading, where she brings her extensive knowledge and passion for literature to a wide audience of fellow book enthusiasts. With the heart of a true bookworm, Paula has immersed herself in the literary world, devouring approximately 50 books annually for the last 15 years. This impressive reading habit has not only provided her with immense joy but has also significantly honed her expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the realm of book reviews. Her insightful and well-crafted reviews reflect her deep understanding and appreciation of various genres, offering valuable guidance to readers in search of their next great read. With a finger always on the pulse of the latest literary releases, Paula Davis is a trusted voice and a go-to source for book recommendations and reviews.

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