Playing Dead

“Impressive first novel.”
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.

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“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.” (see full review)

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

“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! 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. An outstanding debut.”
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