*This title will be released on March 13, 2012*
|Title: Wide Open
Author: Deborah Coates
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reviewed by: Julia
Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.
When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days’ compassionate leave, her sister Dell’s ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.
The sheriff says that Dell’s death was suicide, but Hallie doesn’t believe it. Something happened or Dell’s ghost wouldn’t still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell’s loss, think Hallie’s letting her grief interfere with her judgment.
The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn’t have to.
As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace. Soon, someone’s trying to beat her up, burn down her father’s ranch, and stop her investigation.
Hallie’s going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.
A tough, self-contained heroine, I was invested in Hallie and her mythology immediately. The ghosts that silently haunt her made for a believable and compelling story, but the unfolding conspiracy and villain (to steal a quote from one of the characters) “seem[ed] so.. unlikely.”
With all the Urban Fantasy I enjoy I like to think that I’m pretty adept at suspending disbelief, but perhaps that skill makes it all the more jarring when I can’t. I loved Hallie. Her silent suffering and in-your-face willingness to fight was awesome and fit very well with a woman returning from war with a few psychic “extras”. The believability of Hallie’s part of the story made me all the more resistant to the conspiracy and magic that ultimately unfolded around the villain. I kept waiting for an answer that was as simple and realistic as Hallie’s own situation. Coates did a great job writing compelling characters of mixed motivation in every instance except the actual ring-leader (even local bad-boy Pete made a poignant almost-match for Hallie’s dead sister, despite his predilection for violence and hanging out with would-be rapists). While the critical failure of the villain lowered this book from 4bats to 3, it by no means spoiled my enjoyment of the story overall.
Hallie Michaels brought to mind a scrappier version of her sister-in-arms, Bryn Davis, as well as the specter of Harper Connelly. Though I wasn’t won over by the main plot, Hallie herself was a pleasure to read and I’m definitely eager to revisit her, Boyd, and their supernatural, small town.