Review: Wide Open by Deborah Coates

Wide OpenWide Open by Deborah Coates
Read: February 23 – February 27, 2013
Personal read.

Book Blurb: When Sergeant Hallie Michaels comes back to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days’ compassionate leave, her sister Dell’s ghost is waiting at the airport to greet her.

The sheriff says that Dell’s death was suicide, but Hallie doesn’t believe it. Something happened or Dell’s ghost wouldn’t still be hanging around. Friends and family, mourning Dell’s loss, think Hallie’s letting her grief interfere with her judgment.

The one person who seems willing to listen is the deputy sheriff, Boyd Davies, who shows up everywhere and helps when he doesn’t have to. 

As Hallie asks more questions, she attracts new ghosts, women who disappeared without a trace.  Soon, someone’s trying to beat her up, burn down her father’s ranch, and stop her investigation.

Hallie’s going to need Boyd, her friends, and all the ghosts she can find to defeat an enemy who has an unimaginable ancient power at his command.

My Opinion: I saw this book in the “New” section of my library’s website, and it seemed interesting. I didn’t really know what I was getting into with it. I think I expected more general fiction/mystery with a ghostly touch. But instead I got weird. Like. Just very odd.

The premise (reading the Goodreads blurb) of Wide Open is OK enough, but for me it seemed like there were too many forces at play in the book. We had ghosts, we had the fact that Hallie is in the army, we have the big bad and his ancient power. And they didn’t really play nicely together. Not to mention that the fact that Hallie is in the army doesn’t really play much of a role in the book, except to give her a) a reason for seeing ghosts, b) a timeline, and c) something to repeat every few pages. Points A and B could have easily been taken care of by something else.

Pausing on Hallie for a moment, I have a bone to pick with how she was written. Swearing all the time does not make a badass character. Being in the army does not make a badass character. There needs to be a certain attitude, and I really didn’t find that Hallie had that. On the subject of characters in general, I didn’t find anything stellar here. Boyd was pretty typical sidekick, and the rest of the characters are firmly secondary.

The pacing of Wide Open was weird to me. A lot of time was spent investigating without really finding anything out. All the while, Hallie is counting down the days in her head until she has to leave to go back overseas. I imagine that Coates was trying to instill a sense of being rushed, or panic, but I didn’t feel it at all. I didn’t get emotionally invested in the characters or the story. I was mildly curious to see how it would end, but it didn’t have a great ending either. Not enough explanation for my tastes.

Bottom Line: Wide Open has too much and not enough going on. It didn’t grab me, and I wouldn’t recommend it.


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