Author: Julia Heaberlin
Publisher: Random House
About the book: “Dear Tommie: Have you ever wondered about who you are?”
The perfume-scented 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 inextricably 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.
A riveting debut novel from a thrilling new voice, Playing Dead is a mesmerizing story of family, identity, and secrets that can kill.
First sentence: Despite its name, Ponder, Texas, pop. 1,101, isn't a very good place to think.
My thoughts: This book draws you right in at the beginning with the revealing of the letter that Tommie receives from Rosalina Marchetti claiming that Tommie is really her daughter. With her father dead, and her mother suffering from dementia/Alzheimer's, she does not know who she can ask to verify if there could be any truth to the letter. When she finally mentions it to her sister Sadie, Sadie reveals a conversation that she overheard as a child between their parents that makes Tommie think her whole life might be a lie.
Beginning with what she can find out about Rosalina Marchetti, and her husband Anthony Marchetti, a mobster currently in jail in Texas for killing an FBI agent and his family, Tommie starts her journey in trying to figure out who her parents really were. Before she gets too far in her investigation, a reporter comes calling claiming to know something about her and her family ties to the Marchetti's. Close on his heels are two goons that have her picture and aren't looking for her to bring her good news. She quickly realizes that she may be in danger, as well as her sister Sadie and Sadie's daughter. At the insistence of Sadie, she enlists the aid/protection of an old flame, Hudson Byrd.
She starts uncovering secrets and unknown safety deposit boxes, which only lead to more questions. The trail takes her from Ponder, Texas to Chicago by way of Oklahoma, with a visit to Anthony Marchetti in prison thrown in.
I really enjoyed this book and had no clue as to how it was going to end. I loved the "reveal" at the end, as it wasn't something I was expecting. I am looking forward to seeing what else Julia Heaberlin writes in the future!
~I received a complimentary ecopy of Playing Dead from Random House in exchange for my unbiased review.~
About the author: Julia Heaberlin is an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Detroit News, and The Dallas Morning News. Before launching her career as an author, she was an assistant managing editor over features sections at large metropolitan newspapers. Many of those sections won national and state journalism awards.The Star-Telegram Life and Arts section was named as one of the Top 10 sections in the country during her tenure. She has edited real-life thriller stories that inform her writing, including a series on the perplexing and tragic murders of random girls and women buried in the desert in Mexico and another on the frightened women of domestic violence. Playing Dead is her debut novel. She lives with her husband and son in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where she is a free-lance writer and is at work on her second book, Lie Still, to be published by Random House in Spring 2013. (from author's website)
You can connect with Julia Heaberlin on Goodreads, Facebook, and on her website.
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House, May 29, 2012