Wide Open by Deborah Coates is an interesting book that blends crime fiction with fantasy, creating a unique story with an ending that can’t be predicted.
It begins with Hallie Michaels returning from Afghanistan on compassionate leave from the army for a mere 10 days. Her return is not under happy circumstances, as she has been called home to bury her sister, Dell. Everyone tells her that her sister committed suicide, but Hallie is convinced otherwise as she knew her sister wouldn’t have done something like that, especially without leaving a note.
Adding to her problems is the fact that Hallie can see ghosts. She has been able to see them ever since she died in Afghanistan and had to be resuscitated, with the ghost of a dead soldier friend accompanying her home from the warzone. When she arrives home she starts seeing Dell’s ghost everywhere, with it accompanying her as she tries to discover the truth behind Dell’s death.
This was not happening. She was not seeing a dead soldier in the middle of the Rapid City airport. She wasn’t. She squared her shoulders and walked past him like he wasn’t there.
Hallie also has to adjust to seeing all the old familiar faces of her past, including Pete, a violent guy who Dell used to have a crush on, and who has now fallen in with the wrong crowd. Her trip also involves seeing new faces, with her colliding frequently with Boyd, a police sergeant who seems determined to stop her investigation and protect her at every opportunity.
Her investigation leads her to discover other bodies of women who have disappeared, creating more questions of how they are linked to Dell, and who is behind the murders. There is also the mysterious Mr. Weber to contend with, who Dell worked with and whose business might not be completely above board. And how do the freak storms that are plaguing the town fit into the mystery?
Hallie was a very well crafted main character, as the author manages to show us all of her worries and many sides to her character in the way she interacts with others. It is clear that war has changed her and hardened her heart, but she is vulnerable when it comes to her sister and exceptionally determined to find the truth, no matter what danger she places herself in.
I really liked this book, as the mystery kept me reading and I really wanted to find out how the story would end. I was slightly disappointed with the ending however, as the fantasy elements weren’t fully explained and I wasn’t entirely sure how everything was tied together. I did like seeing the relationship between Boyd and Hallie build up, as it becomes clear that she doesn’t have to carry out the investigation alone, and can rely on others.
A lot of the events in the book were unexpected, which I liked about it, and I did like the combination of crime and fantasy. I also loved the 10 day time limit Hallie had for solving the case, as it really created a sense of urgency to the action. I felt the fantasy could have been better written, and the culprit was fairly obvious throughout, but overall it was a great read and I really enjoyed it.
Wide Open was a refreshing read compared to typical crime fiction, with fantasy elements being mixed into the mystery. I was a little disappointed that the fantasy wasn’t further explored, but overall this book pulled me in and was a great read.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Wide Open
- Deep Down
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