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Deep Down    by Deborah Coates order for
Deep Down
by Deborah Coates
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Deep Down follows Wide Open as the second in Deborah Coates' ghostly urban fantasy series starring ex-Sergeant Hallie Michaels, who returned to South Dakota from a tour in Afghanistan (where she died for seven minutes) for her sister Dell's funeral. Back home she met her romantic interest in the series, deputy sheriff Boyd Davies.

In that first episode, Hallie's investigation into Dell's death led her to Uku-Weber, the wind turbine company for which her sister worked. There, she came up against Martin Weber who controlled the weather, growing ever more powerful from the killings of those he sacrificed (including Dell). She took him down with Boyd's help. Now Boyd seems to want more from Hallie than she's ready to give, and she contemplates taking a job that would send her all over the country - and away from Boyd.

This time, Hallie meets Death himself, and his reaper minions, one of whom is getting more and more out of control. It starts when Hallie is asked to check on an elderly neighbor. She finds Pabby's ranch besieged by black dogs (that only she and Pabby can see). One of them talks, telling Hallie they're Harbingers of Death - it attaches itself to her, appearing regularly by her side. Meanwhile, people are mysteriously disappearing all over the area.

Heading into town, Hallie spots a fortunetelling sign offering 'Glimpses of the Afterlife'. She consults Laddie Kennedy, who is able to offer dribs and drabs of useful insights. And she meets the villain of the piece, who appears and disappears, telling her to ask Boyd about his wife - Hallie wonders is he a ghost? Turns out that Travis Hollowell was a stalker of Boyd's dead wife Lily, and that Boyd believes Lily sacrificed herself to save him. Now he's a reaper, abusing his power in search of more.

Hollowell goes after Hallie to get at Boyd, but she's no easy mark. Even though there's almost nothing that can stop a reaper, Hallie will fight in Hell itself to protect those she loves - and that's exactly what she does, with some ghostly aid. This is an unusual and highly entertaining series, and Deep Down was just as good as Wide Open. I look forward to more.

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