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Deep Down by Deborah Coates

Deep Down is the second installment in the series by Deborah Coates that features Hallie Michaels, the Afghanistan War veteran who died in an IED explosion, was resuscitated, and now sees dead people.   (See the review for the first book here.) If I'm honest with myself, I need another book series to follow like I need another hole in the head, but this one has me hook, line and sinker.  Coates does the supernatural, ghost stuff extremely well and her characterization of her heroine is vivid and full of personality.  This new book takes up about two months since the events of the last book in which some crazy, psycho dude tried to use some dark magic hoodoo stuff to control the weather (yeah, you should really read that one first and then read this one).  As this story progresses it appears that the previous events' aftermath and effects are still being felt and dealt with in this novel and may be slightly more connected to the current events detailed in this story than initially thought.

Hallie's still in South Dakota working on her family's ranch and dealing with the physical fallout from her confrontation with the aforementioned crazy, psycho dude.  But it's a couple weeks since last she's seen a ghost and nearly that long since she's had one of the blinding, debilitating headaches that often herald an encounter with the supernatural.  Unfortunately, South Dakota has become a vortex for all things supernatural, and this respite from life endangering supernatural confrontations won't last much longer.

When an elderly neighbor's son asks Hallie's father to check on his mother, Hallie's father sends her instead.  Upon Hallie's arrival she's greeted by both a pack of black dogs that stalk the edge of the neighbor's property and the rifle toting elderly neighbor, Pabby.  Pabby is surprised that Hallie can see the black dogs, whose numbers multiply every day, because it seems that only Pabby is able to see them.  Hallie knows these dogs are not of this world nor are they ghosts.  It's soon discovered that they are harbingers of death and where these dogs go, reapers soon follow.  As the story hums along it becomes apparent that these are also harbingers of the complicated consequences of the events of the previous book--because the after effects are not over and this world and the next and the boundaries that separate them have been seemingly irreparably altered to the detriment of both realms.

Hallie promises to solve Pabby's black dog problem.  Before she can turn to Boyd, the premonition dreaming sheriff's deputy ally from the previous book, she finds out that he's dealing with his own consequences, ghosts and reapers that have come out of his past in Iowa and followed him back to South Dakota to haunt him.  This is a problem for which he refuses Hallie's help and is determined to deal with on his own.  There's also the problem of people around the county vanishing into thin air.  Boyd's problem and the disappearances problem is related to the black dog problem--all of which can be traced back to the harrowing conclusion of the events in the previous novel.  That turns out not to be a conclusion at all, but rather the beginning to some very big problems that neither Hallie nor Boyd know how to solve.

This book reveals that middle of nowhere South Dakota attracts more than its fair share of ghosts, reapers, harbingers, magic, esoterica, and death.  Its residents have an unusually high occurrence of 'special talents' and 'special knowledge' unique to the supernatural world.  In fact it seems it's drawn here and to Hallie, who can see ghosts, harbingers, and reapers, and to Boyd, who dreams premonitions of death.  It's revealed that Hallie was brought back from the dead with a purpose--but for what and by whom?

Nailbiting, heartpounding suspense drips from this story from the first chapter.  Fans of the supernatural will love this book and if you haven't already read the first one, I suggest you start there before you read this one.  This book does a great job of answering some questions while raising new ones and then throwing an intriguing twist into the mix in the final chapters.  You won't be able to put this book down. And, um, when is the next one coming out?

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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