Wide Open is a good readfull of sound and fury, ghosts and fire. A tough, tenacious heroine who relies on guts and brains rather than awesome cosmic superpowers. I loved it. Deborah Coates is a storyteller in the best sense of the word.” Patricia Briggs, New York Times bestselling author of River Marked
“Twin Peaks meets Dean Koontz... Deborah Coates offers a pitch-perfect sense of place, an uncanny knack for dialogue, and a complex heroine who's mad, sad, tenacious, and toughexactly the person you'd pick to investigate your own murder.” Sharon Shinn, author of Troubled Waters
“A great blast of fresh air. From the intimate story of a young woman haunted by forces both natural and supernatural, to the grand scope of godlike elementals, Deborah Coates demonstrates a sure storytelling hand.... Wide Open is the impressive debut of a distinct new voice in fantasy.” Greg van Eekhout, author of Norse Code
“Wide Open lures us into the dangerous world of Sergeant Hallie Michaels and her alarmingly real ghosts.... Vivid, suspenseful, and filled with intensely convincing characters, this novel is an unforgettable homecoming.” A. M. Dellamonica, award-winning author of Indigo Springs
A young woman who keeps company with spirits and a smalltown deputy haunted by premonitions become unusual allies in this refreshingly original dark fantasy debut. Sgt. Hallie Michaels has seen ghosts since her near-death experience in Afghanistan. When she returns home to Rapid City, S.D., on compassionate leave, the constant presence of her sister’s insistent shade convinces her that Dell’s suicide was actually murder. Grudgingly, Hallie teams up with deputy Boyd Davies, whose precognitive dreams tell him that someone is covering up the truth behind Dell’s death. Together, the two investigate Dell’s former employer, a research firm whose ability to control the weather derives from mastery of forces a bit darker than meteorological science. The plot turns on more than a few convenient coincidences, but Coates makes her premise believable through her canny and credible depiction of life in a rural backwater where the normal and paranormal seamlessly merge. Agent: Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Associates. (Mar.)
Sgt. Hallie Michaels has ten days' compassionate leave from her tour of duty in Afghanistan to attend the funeral of her sister Dell in South Dakota. The facts of Dell's death are sketchy, and Hallie has a hard time believing that her sister committed suicide. Local entrepreneur Martin Weber seems to know something, as does Deputy Boyd Davies, but it is impossible to get a straight answer from anyone. This only serves to infuriate Hallie. What no one knows is that Hallie is recovering from a near-death experience and has started to see ghosts, including Dell and several young women who have disappeared from the area. Hallie thinks there might be a connection between these disappearances and a rash of fires and extreme weather events, but proving it is another story altogether. VERDICT In this first in a trilogy, debut novelist Coates has done an excellent job creating a believable heroine in a very real present-day America. She slowly builds suspense along with her characters. Fans of urban fantasies should enjoy the kick-ass Hallie.—Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib.
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.