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Wide Open    by Deborah Coates order for
Wide Open
by Deborah Coates
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Wide Open, Deborah Coates gives us a romantic urban fantasy in which ghosts play a significant role. Though tales of heroines who can communicate with ghosts are not uncommon in the genre, this one stands out for its credibility - here, communication with spirits is by no means clear or easy.

Our heroine, Sergeant Hallie Michaels, comes home to South Dakota from a tour in Afghanistan - where she herself was dead for seven minutes before they revived her - for her sister Dell's funeral. Arriving at Rapid City airport, she's met by two ghosts - those of her dead comrade-in-arms Eddie Serrano and Dell. Their presence is associated with 'a cold so intense, she thought it would stop her heart', and it appears that they want her help with unfinished business. Hallie soon learns that Dell's death is considered suicide by some.

A flat tire leads to Hallie's first meeting with earnest, good looking deputy sheriff Boyd Davies, 'dressed in khaki and white and so goddamned young looking.' He keeps appearing in her life. Lightning bolt tattoos, unusual lightning storms, and fires accompany Hallie's investigation into Dell's death. She becomes suspicious of the wind turbine company for which her sister worked, Uku-Weber, and begins to discover the corpses of young women - a serial killer at work?

Gradually Hallie uncovers Uku-Weber's - and Boyd Davies' - secrets, and eventually shares her own. Her sister rejected the idea that 'the greater good' deserves the sacrifice of innocents and so does Hallie. In the aftermath, she's left with devastating headaches - 'she and the army were finished' but ghosts still find her. Fortunately it looks like we'll be seeing more of Hallie Michaels, and I look forward to her next adventure.

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