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Strange Country    by Deborah Coates order for
Strange Country
by Deborah Coates
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Strange Country follows Wide Open and Deep Down as the third in Deborah Coates' modern fantasy series starring ex-Sergeant Hallie Michaels in South Dakota. Hallie returned from a tour in Afghanistan (where she died for seven minutes, changing her in significant ways) for her sister Dell's funeral. Back home she met a new romantic interest, clean cut deputy sheriff Boyd Davies.

In Wide Open, Hallie investigated Dell's death. She discovered that her sister had been murdered by Martin Weber, who gained his power over weather through blood sacrifices. Hallie took him down with Boyd's help. In Deep Down, Hallie met Death himself, and learned that Boyd's wife had been one of Death's two daughters. People mysteriously disappearing all over the region had been taken to the under by a reaper, Travis Hollowell, seeking power. Of course, Hallie stopped him too, but had to let Boyd die (briefly) to do so. Their relationship hasn't been quite the same ever since.

Death asked Hallie to take his place in the under in Deep Down. She knows she doesn't want to, but wonders if this is an offer she'll be unable to refuse. Strange Country opens on a series of shootings. The first one kills a town resident who had long experimented with magic - a body and magical stones are found in her cellar. As Boyd investigates, hindered more than helped by DCI agents, Hallie receives strange messages telling her that it's time to face her fear. And Death's other daughter, Boyd's young sister-in-law Beth, shows up, demanding Hallie's help to get into the under.

Hallie eventually finds out that her past actions have left a crack open between her world and the under, a dangerous situation - can she resolve it without taking Death up on his offer? If you enjoy a mystery heavily laced with magic and horror, dive into this gripping, ghostly series. Fans will find Strange Country just as good as the first two episodes.

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