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WesternSFA
Wide Open
by Deborah Coates
Tom Doherty Assoc., $14.99, 304pp
Release Date: January 15, 2013
A really nice debut novel.

Hallie is on leave from the Army after a traumatic tour in Afghanistan , where she died – for seven seconds. She’s home in S. Dakota for her sister’s funeral. A mysterious death with no explanation; and some of the townsfolk are starting to say ‘suicide.’ And that isn’t something that Hallie can let stand.

There are no clear answers from anyone but there are small clues; some of which are only visible to Hallie. Because, you see, Hallie can see ghosts now. And one of the ones that greeted her at the airport was her sister’s. The ghosts are quite insubstantial and uncommunicative. But their mere presence must mean something. Hallie finally begins to understand that her part in that is to give them closure.

But as the number of ghosts of murdered women grows, Hallie also understands it’s pretty much all up to her to stop the murders; because no one will believe the truth. Except maybe one person… Boyd, the deputy sheriff who seems to have his own secrets.

This was a pretty good supernatural ghost story. The plot and pacing was a little slow for the first half, while the author was laying the groundwork; but it picked up nicely after that. I was happy that she didn’t throw in any gratuitous gore and horror about the murders. It was lacking a bit in tension, she could’ve tightened that up more to heighten the suspense. The main character was well defined although no one else was. I can see why she didn’t give us any background on Boyd as she wanted us as surprised as Hallie; but I’ve seen authors still give personal insights without giving away the farm. If she works on character development and building suspense, I think she’ll be producing some real quality work. I will be looking out for more by this writer. ~~ Catherine Book

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