WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates


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Coates’ debut novel scores from a reader’s point of view, despite the author’s repetitiveness and clunky writing style.

Hallie Michaels has returned from the war in Afghanistan, but her arrival at the rural South Dakota ranch of her childhood isn’t cause for celebration: She has returned to help bury her older sister, Dell, who died in a fiery crash in what local law enforcement infers was a case of suicide. But Hallie knows that Dell didn’t kill herself, and even though she only has 10 days in which to prove her sister was murdered before returning to her Army post, the sergeant is determined to prove her theory. Of course, Hallie has a little supernatural help in the form of her sister’s ghost, a cold, silent presence that only she can see. While most would be put off when trailed by a ghost, Hallie takes it in stride because she’s also hauling around another ghost named Eddie, a friend killed in Afghanistan. Soon other ghosts join Hallie in her search for her sister’s killer, whose death she is certain is tied to a company owned by Martin Weber. And the ghosts aren’t her only allies because Hallie also finds herself working with a deputy named Boyd, who has secrets of his own. Unsure as to whether Boyd is friend or foe, Hallie circles him with care, while the stakes grow higher and the danger mounts. Eventually, though, Hallie must rely on her own sense of survival, especially when forces she can’t explain try to take her down. Peopled with taciturn characters that pull emotional punches, Coates' book introduces a close-knit community that takes care of its own. However, the characters’ quirky shared propensities for uttering the same four-letter word no matter what the situation handicaps the dialogue.

An interesting plot and compelling characters are dragged down by unwieldy dialogue and a climax in which the action is not adequately explained, suggesting there will be a sequel.

Pub Date: March 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2898-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2012


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