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Playing Dead

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  2,511 ratings  ·  404 reviews
“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
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Ballantine Books (first published 2012)
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Community Reviews

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For a bright girl, Tommie McCloud is pretty dense. When a letter arrives from a stranger after her father's death claiming that Tommie is her kidnapped daughter, she really should have put the pieces together a lot more quickly. Apparently she slept through her Ph.D. program in Psychology--worn out, no doubt, after her many successful years on the rodeo circuit. Happily, she has a former flame--ruggedly handsome, blah blah blah--who is conveniently in the security business and thus theoretically ...more
Laura Jeanne
Overall a very good page turner. The plot is a little complicated, but she tyes everything up nicely in the end.

The author should have done a little more research on rodeos. The main character was injured when an "eight hundred pound steer stomped on my wrist 14 years ago in a rodeo arena in Lubbock, TX knocking me from the pedastal of my saddle into mortality."

First off, NO ONE rides steers. Men ride bulls, but women don't. And never with a saddle. She mentions this throughout the book and it
Oh...this book, this book.

Playing Dead is a suspenseful family drama that takes you on an adventure from the past to the present, from a ranch in Texas to the Mob in Chicago. You never know where this book is going to take a turn, or what shocking surprise is in store. Julia has a beautiful way of telling a story, without revealing too much at once. The book starts out a little confusing. It starts out instantly fast paced, and you wonder what the heck is going on. It all unravels and reveals it
Joanne Parkington
I've just read some reviews of this book on here & i'm astounded that some people gave it 5 stars .... FIVE !! WTF !! This book is a walking Texas cliche right down to the faded red boots & the ten gallon hats .... Surprise, surprise the men are mean & moody and the women are split right down the middle, as it seems in Texas you are either a pinafored homemaker or a lasso throwing, horse riding, gun toting 'gal' taking the game to the boy's ... just like our good 'ole heroine Tommie ...more
The synopsis for this book pulled me in and I couldn't wait to begin reading it. Unfortunately, I was not pleased with this novel. Playing Dead opens with Tommie receiving a letter saying that she is not the daughter of the woman that has raised her. Tommie obviously finds this letter absurd; she is dealing with the death of her father, her mother's illness, and the family business.

I don't want to delve into the story too much, partly because it was confusing and partly because I don't want to
I enjoyed the characters and the well-evoked wide-sky Texas setting of this thriller so much it gave me a case of cognitive dissonance—I wanted to keep reading as fast as I could to figure everything out and I wanted to go slow and have the book world I was inhabiting last as long as possible. Tommie, tough and compassionate--a former rodeo star now working on a PhD in psychology, is home for her father’s funeral when she gets a letter that throws everything she thinks she knows about her life a ...more
Set in the remote and thinly populated town of Ponder, Texas this debut mystery thriller tells of Tommie McCloud, an ex rodeo rider and budding concert pianist (can you say incongruous) whose dreams of fame in both arenas were shattered by a raging bull. Currently pursuing a career as a psychologist, she has received a letter from a woman in Chicago indicating that Tommie may not be who she thinks she is. With the man she always thought to be her father recently deceased and her mother being car ...more
I read this for a book discussion and am anxious to get other opinions. It was an interesting mystery that kept me turning the pages, but I found that there were too many random details that were not properly addressed. A bit more character development and background would have enhanced the story line, given that much of the plot focused on what occurred in the past. I was surprised by the ending, which is good when reading a mystery. Our book discussion was canceled for tonight due to weather, ...more
Barbara Ann
4.5 shining stars

Playing Dead is my favorite between both of Heaberlin’s novels, and one of the reasons is because Ponder, Texas really does exist, and it's in my neck of the woods.

Tommie Mcloud is the protagonist of the book, daughter of a prominent ranch owner whose entire world gets turned upside down after she receives a letter from an infamous Chicago mobster’s wife who makes Tommie begin to question her own identity and what secrets her family may be hiding.

Since her father has recently d
I was not thrilled with this book. I did not like the main character, "Tommie." It does not mean you should not read it. That is just my opinion. However I loved the other characters & the storyline. It was just a little too slow for me!!
Kristi (Books and Needlepoint)
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 ...more
When Tommie McCloud returns home to Ponder, Texas, it is for her father's funeral. And sadly, it might as well have been for her mother's, too, as she is in a nursing home, suffering from dementia, her health deteriorating.

The funeral is scarcely over when her father's secretary hands her a letter from a stranger. A missive that will change her life in unexpected ways. A letter that makes Tommie question everything she thought she knew about her family and who she is.

Set on finding out the truth
Krista (CubicleBlindness Reviews)
Tommie is educated, smart and dealing with a lot of family grief already. Her father just died, her mother is in a home and she is managing their land, making decisions for it’s future. Then she gets an unexplained letter. A man claiming to be a reporter shows up on her doorstep and asks a lot more questions than he gives answers. But for some reason Tommie is drawn to him, hoping he can help her find her answers.

Secret bank deposit boxes, long lost letters from the past and men chasing after he
I chose this book b/c it's based in the Ft. Worth area, it's written by a Star-Telegram person, and it seemed like a good mystery. This is the author's 1st book. She's really good about writing a mystery that I didn't figure out until the end, she's great at setting up background, and she endows each character with enough personality to make them seem real, like someone we know. (although I got tired of the Dr. Pepper references in the book, lol). The problem I basically had was that (view spoil ...more
Wow! Newbie writer, so I wasn't expecting a book this good. As always, it seems, there were a few tiny things her editor missed. Just enough to take me briefly out of the story, but not enough to affect the rating. (Please don't say a prison guard searched the trunk when you've just finished telling us they're in a pickup truck. /eyeroll) Great story, believable characters, fascinating twists. And it was flowery and descriptive without feeling weighed down and overly ... "literary magazine-ish," ...more
I picked this up randomly based on immediate availability for e-reader loans at the library. It was a decent, entertaining mystery. The premise was interesting-a woman finds out that her parents may have lied to her all her life and that her real parents may be associated with the mafia. I have some issues with some of the plot elements being overly convoluted and implausible. Various issues seemed extraneous, and others were never satisfactorily explained. Also, the main character was inconsist ...more
I was thinking perhaps the more reviews a book gets, the more the rating moves to the center... maybe that's not true but it is the only way I could figure this book would get an average rating of 3.54. Halfway through this book that was packed with corny cliches and bad metaphors, I almost gave up. But I did want to find out who Tommie's biological parents were and whether she was kidnapped when she was one year old. This was a shallowly written book with underdeveloped characters. It was writt ...more
Diane S.
Tommie's father is dead and her mother is in a nursing home when she receives a letter from a woman who claims that she is actually her daughter, having been kidnapped as a young child. What follows is a thriller, with plenty of action and a mystery as Tommie attempts to uncover the facts of her own life. Tommie is a very very likable character who is a therapist that uses horses to treat people and children with various mental and physical afflictions. Enjoyed this story, many different threads ...more
Amy Rork
At first, I wasn't sure about this book. I'm a Texan, but for some reason novels based in Texas rarely click with me. But this one did, very quickly.

You know that point in a book where you feel like can't put it down unless you finish it? I call that the slippery slope. Most novels it happens for me about 30 pages before the end. This slippery slope came less than halfway through. I stayed up late, reading and obsessing. That's got to be a good sign.

I can't wait for Julia Heaberlin's next nove
I thought for sure when reading this book that Heaberlin was setting up a new franchise. This book has all the markings of the next Stephanie Plum series. The beautiful protagonist, Tommie McCloud, (apparently the "ie" in her name is key to something but I never figured that out) cares nothing for her considerable gorgeous looks and throws on any old clothing, mostly her sister's clothes that are too small, can shoot a gun and play classical music and, of course, is wealthy but really doesn't gi ...more
Oh my goodness...not sure where to start, but this book was excellent. I felt that the first half or so moved a bit slow for me, but the last few chapters MORE than made up for it. Great characters throughout and lots of them to keep up with, which was a small challenge, but it left me wanting to hug a bunch of them! There is a WHOLE ENTIRE plot here that isn't even alluded to in the description. Overall a great book with a FANTASTIC and SURPRISING ending!! LOVED IT!!
SIMON Karine
Qui es-tu ? est le premier roman de Julia Heaberlin. Elle est elle-même originaire du Texas, et ça se sent à la lecture. En effet, on s’y croirait vraiment, que ça soit dans les descriptions de l’ambiance, des paysages, et des différents lieux. Et c’est un des côté du roman qui m’a plu.

L’histoire en elle-même est intéressante, le scénario plutôt bien ficelé. Tommie rentre dans son Texas natal, pour l’enterrement de son père. Elle est bien entendu abattue et mélancolique, on la sent un peu perdu.
Shannon Cassidy
Combine a nail-biting mystery with a hint of reignited romance, throw in a bit of Texas grit, and you have Playing Dead. After the death of her father, a letter from someone claiming to be her mother calls into question everything Tommie ever knew about her life. A former rodeo star, Tommie is independent and skilled at making it on her own, but she finds herself in over her head as she realizes she is only a few steps ahead of serious danger. Tommie is clueless as to what's going on and why, bu ...more
I hate when the description of the book sounds so great and then the book is a dud-as in boring and a little predictable. It gets one star because I admit to skimming several pages in several chapters! Sorry I personally cant recommend this one.
Ramey Channell
I really liked Playing Dead, a compelling family-mystery page turner. This is the story of a young woman from Texas who gets a mysterious letter telling her that she is not who she thinks she is. Very well written; keeps you guessing.
Kristi Duarte
How did this book get 5-star reviews? Here and there there's some good writing, which makes me think that the author can - with guidance - become a better writer. Maybe her subsequent books are good?

The plot, although full of humongous holes and very spotty, is an interesting idea. It didn't really add up for me in the end, but it shows promise.

But Tommie, the main character. She's so unlikable. She's a dumb blond who eats junk food, carries a gun and sleeps in a duck pajamas. It took me 100 pa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy Braatz
This was a really good read! Hooked me at the very beginning and I couldn't put it down! I loved the ending and love the main character. Definitely recommend this one!
Patti Clifton
This was a fun read. I especially liked the tie-ins to my home state with even a mention of my small home town. The mob meets Texas plot was a page turner for me.
Nicole D
Fascinating book because part of it is based in Ponder where I lived for 5 or 6 years. Loved all the references to Denton (Catfish King) and Fort Worth!
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Julia Heaberlin, is an award-winning journalist who has directed arts and lifestyle coverage at the Fort-Worth Star Telegram and The Detroit News. She lives with her family in Texas, where she is at work on her next novel of psychological suspense.
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