Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin

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“A compelling family mystery that kept me turning the pages. Highly recommended.”—Margaret Maron, New York Times bestselling author of Three Day Town
“Dear Tommie: Have you ever wondered about who you are?”
The letter that turns Tommie McCloud’s world upside down arrives from a stranger only days after her father’s death. The woman who wrote it claims that Tommie is her daughter—and that she was kidnapped as a baby thirty-one years ago.
Tommie wants to believe it’s all a hoax, but suddenly a girl who grew up on a Texas ranch finds herself  linked to a horrific past: the slaughter of a family in Chicago, the murder of an Oklahoma beauty queen, and the kidnapping of a little girl named Adriana. Tommie races along a twisting, nightmarish path while an unseen stalker is determined to keep old secrets locked inside the dementia-battered brain of the woman who Tommie always thought was her real mother. With everything she has ever believed in question, and no one she can trust, Tommie must discover the truth about the girl who vanished—and the very real threats that still remain. 
“[Julia Heaberlin’s] voice is pitch perfect, and her story of one woman’s fierce struggle to reconcile her past with her present is gripping and powerful. An outstanding debut.”—Carla Buckley, author of Invisible

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Julia Heaberlin

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Julia Heaberlin was a journalist for more than twenty years for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Detroit News. Playing Dead is her first novel. She lives with her family in Texas, where she is at work on her second book, Lie Still, to be published by Bantam Books.
Published May 29, 2012 by Ballantine Books. 354 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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With assists from Hudson, a former boyfriend with lifetime access to FBI files (don’t ask), Tommie discovers ties to a girl’s unsolved murder, the slaughter years back of an FBI agent and his family, and Smith’s true agenda: confronting Marchetti, recently incarcerated in Texas.

May 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Playing Dead

Gather Books

I'd like to reconcile Tommie's actions with her intelligence.In spite of those two problems I have with PLAYING DEAD, I did enjoy the story.

Oct 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Playing Dead

In her first novel, “Playing Dead,” journalist Julia Heaberlin makes it clear that her heroine Tommie McCloud’s sense of place in the world — a sprawling Texas ranch, a small town childhood, bull riding on the rodeo circuit, a wealthy Daddy recently dead — will dominate the book as much as the le...

Jun 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Playing Dead


Tommie desperately needs help and trustworthy support so she enlists the help of former boyfriend Hudson, ex-rodeo competitor and military contractor.

Jul 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Playing Dead

The American Book Center Blog

Tommie McCloud, a sexy, shoot ‘em up Texan toting a pistol and a Masters in Horse Psychology, likes to wash her sushi down with Dr. Pepper.

Jun 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Playing Dead

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