Reviewed by Kristie Lormand
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. Following the death of her father (and naturally, the inheritance of a ranch), she receives a letter from a woman claiming to be her biological mother. Tommie had allegedly been kidnapped at birth. Since the person she had always thought to be her real father was dead and the only mother she had ever known was ridden with dementia, Tommie is forced on a mission to uncover the truth of her hidden past. Where can she go and who can she trust?
Reading like a made-for-tv movie script, Playing Dead is bloated with action and suspense. Nevertheless, the novel did offer a gripping storyline with a number of surprising twists.
As if the death of a parent and the discovery of a hidden past were not enough to invoke sympathy for the main character, Tommie’s resume is further complicated by two major events. A childhood rodeo accident left her physically unable to pursue her dream of becoming a concert pianist, and the loss of her young brother in a drunk-driving accident left her marred by a premature confrontation with death. In addition, her sister got knocked up at age 19 and has since been diagnosed with cancer.
Now Tommie finds herself being tailed by a mysteriously handsome but untrustworthy journalist packing a pistol in his boot. And the trail heats up when she gets her hands on a safe deposit box key taped to the back of a deck of cards, bringing memories of her fortune-telling Granny to the surface.
In short, it was difficult to suspend my disbelief. A little too much happens to this woman.
I also found the characters, while engaging, a bit far-fetched. Julia Heaberlin seems almost too eager to dispel the stereotype of the uneducated pistol whipping Texas rancher. Being a Southerner myself, I can understand the temptation. It did appear, though, as if the author had something personal to prove.
However, if you are able to get past the contrived plot line and characterizations, Playing Dead is quite fun to read. Every new chapter seemed to increase my involvement in the main character’s quest for truth. If solving mysteries is your thing, you will find yourself engrossed in piecing together the puzzle of Tommie McCloud’s past life. If you are looking to switch off your intellect and engage your imagination, this suspenseful novel could be a winner for you this summer.
You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.