Okay, excluding some very necessary, quick breaks, I read Wide Open by Deborah Coates in one sitting. By the second page, I was deep into the story. At the end, I was grateful there was a sequel. I wouldn’t call it a "great" book from a literary standpoint, but it is a very engaging story. But then again, I am partial to mystery/fantasy hybrids.
Briefly, Halle comes home to South Dakota, on a bereavement pass from serving in Afghanistan, because of the death of her sister, Dell. Halle learns that suicide is the most likely cause of death. She also learns quite quickly that she is being accompanied by the ghost of her sister and the ghost of a fellow soldier. She soon meets Deputy Boyd, one of the few people who believes that there is more to Dell’s death. Halle first tries to uncover the truth of Dell’s death, but soon her goal changes to preventing more deaths. Boyd, himself, proves something of a mystery: what does he really know; is he a help or an obstacle. Halle has only ten days of leave to accomplish her mission.
I found so much to like about Wide Open. Halle is a very strong protagonist and yet I could identify with her grief. She struggles with the idea that she has some contact with her sister’s ghost—an enigmatic presence, but the experience is not the same as having her sister alive. I liked the pacing. Other than the ghosts, Coates waits until the middle of the book before she reveals that there is anything supernatural going on. We learn about Halle’s backstory fairly early in the story, but Boyd’s backstory is not revealed until close to the end. I also appreciated that the novel defies some formulas I associate with mysteries.
I hope this is a beginning of a series in which I can look forward to reading the next book each year.