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 julia heaberlin - thrillers
julia heaberlin
Playing Dead US
US edition, Ballantine


"Impressive first novel ... (this) debut's most striking feature is Tommie's narrative voice, which is so winning and vivacious."
The Sunday Times (London)


That's the question torturing child psychologist Tommie McCloud after she opens a stranger's letter only days after burying her father. The woman claims that Tommie is her child, kidnapped thirty-two years ago. Suddenly, a deeply rooted Texas girl 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. With everything she has ever believed in question and a stalker determined to stop her, Tommie must discover the truth about her family's secrets and the girl who vanished.

Listen to an excerpt read by Julia
Foreign rights
Read about Julia's latest thriller, Black-eyed Susans
Read about Lie Still

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Playing Dead UK
UK edition


Media reviews

"Feverishly compelling ... Heaberlin tells the story with whip-smart dialogue, an insistent pace and keen wit."
The Dallas Morning News (see full review)

"A little bit of chick-lit, a whopping amount of suspense, this is the one tome that should make it into your beach tote this summer—and onto your book club's reading list."
Indulge Magazine, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (see full review)

"In a word, this book is fun. ... you look up and realize that an hour has flown by when it only feels like minutes."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (see full review)

"Tommie is a smart, sassy, loving, and doggedly persistent narrator in this fast-moving mystery that occasionally tugs at the heartstrings. A promising debut."
Booklist (see full review)

"Impressive first novel ... Heaberlin constructs her plot like a seasoned writer, and fills it with memorable characters; but her debut's most striking feature is Tommie's narrative voice, which is so winning and vivacious."
The (London) Sunday Times (see full review)

"If Playing Dead is anything to judge by, then this is a debut crime novel from an author with a very promising future."
Crimesquad.com (see full review)

"As Heaberlin leads the reader through several complex threads, the fast-pace narrative rarely flags."
The Detroit News (see full review)

What booksellers are saying...

"Suspenseful, entertaining and evocative."
Amazon UK, Editor's Pick: One of "Best Books of the Month" for July (see full review)

"A debut novel, and a great one at that. Twists and turns, and then more twists and turns."
The Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles (see full review)

What bloggers are saying...

"Playing Dead has just earned a ticket to the top of my favorite debuts of 2012 list."
Jen's Book Thoughts (read the full review)

"Even when away from the book, I found myself thinking about it, wanting to go back. My heart raced with just about every page. Cliche, I know, but true."
Musings of a Bookish Kitty (read the full review)

"I found Playing Dead to be one of the most consuming books I have read in a very long time."
Luxury Reading (read the full review)

What other writers are saying...

"Like the Chicken Fried Steak that its characters love, Playing Dead combines Texas and noir in unexpectedly wonderful ways, with a refreshingly real heroine and a plot that moves and twists with the unpredictability of a rodeo bull. A terrific debut."
Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author of The Winter Sea

"Absolutely gripping! Julia Heaberlin's Playing Dead whirls the reader from the open spaces of rural Texas to the crowded Chicago streets as the stakes grow ever higher and the truth ever more elusive. I couldn't put down this compelling novel of a life turned inside out in a world where no one is what they seem. More, please!"
Vicki Lane, author of the Elizabeth Goodweather mysteries

"Playing Dead is an accomplished thriller, with twists that cut like barbed wire. Sure-footed, suspenseful, and full of heart."
Meg Gardiner, Edgar® Award-winning author of China Lake

"Once I began reading Playing Dead, I couldn't put it down. 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 the highly acclaimed The Things That Keep Us Here

"A compelling family mystery that kept me turning the pages. Highly recommended."
Margaret Maron, author of the Edgar®-award winning bestseller Bootlegger's Daughter

"Julia Heaberlin's Playing Dead is a wonderfully suspenseful debut. Heroine Tommie McCloud is scrappy, sassy and has a heart as big as her home state of Texas."
Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence

"I loved it, and had to put everything aside so that I could finish it. What a great, fast-paced action thriller, and, even better, written from a woman's point of view. I was transported to Texas and Tommie's world of cowgirl boots and junk food and didn't really want to come back. The uncovering of hidden family secrets and mysteriously disappearing girls is skillfully handled, and kept me guessing and rooting for Tommie all the way through."
Julia Crouch, author of Cuckoo and the forthcoming Every Vow You Break

"I loved Playing Dead from cover to cover—pulled me in and wouldn't let me go until I finished in the wee morning hours. Best fiction I've read in a very, very long time."
Taylor Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist

"For fans of Sophie Hannah and Gillian Flynn comes a thrilling debut from an exciting new voice. Playing Dead is a captivating story of identity, betrayal and family secrets that will have you gripped from beginning to end."
Faber and Faber, UK publisher of Playing Dead

"I have never been to Texas but think I would recognise it now if I made a visit there. ... Julia has that rare gift of creating characters that seem to be so full of life and energy that there is that momentary pang of sadness from the reader when the story is over and you still want to know what happens next in their lives."
Alex Gray, bestselling Scottish crime writer

What readers on Amazon are saying...

"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."

"After having read novel upon novel that just thuds to a blind ending or leaves too many questions unanswered, it's nice to see a book that carefully winds up and takes you on a mystery that includes a conclusion!"

"This book grabbed my attention right from the first couple of pages."

"This is a wonderful first novel from a promising author. Just in time to tuck into your bag for a plane ride or your basket for a day at the beach."

"It is a hodge-podge of a wild ride. From the Texas countryside to Chicago, Tommie encounters members of the mob, FBI, and a host of colorful characters. Strangely, it seems to work."

"A great book for a long flight or a relaxing beach vacation."

"I've never been to Texas and I've never known any gun-toting girls, but after reading this I feel as if I have had a visit out West and gotten to know one tough chick."

"Certain aspects of the story were easily figured out if you pay attention, but other parts had me clueless until the final revelation. That's not something that often happens when I'm reading a mystery/suspense novel."

"Whew! What a book. Classifying this novel as a "novel of suspense" is putting it quite mildly. This is mystery, suspense, a tiny bit romance and so much more."

"There wasn't a boring page or plot line in this entire book."

"Ms. Heaberlin pulls all the connections together at the end and hands you a spectacular story. Not confusing but so interwoven, I had to re-read toward the end to make sure I had all the pieces and that they all fit. Believe me, they do!"

Foreign Rights

UK: Faber and Faber
Chinese complex rights: Faces Publications
France: Place des Editeurs
Germany: DTV
Holland: Mistral Uitgevers
Russia: Hemiro

Ballantine Books; Trade Paperback (May 2012), ISBN-13: 978-0345527011