I so enjoyed Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin that I recently picked up her debut novel, Playing Dead¸ and finished it at 1:00 a.m. this morning! It’s a great mystery, with characters so real you’d think they lived in your neighborhood (if y’all are from Texas)!
Tommie McCloud has just moved back home to Ponder, Texas, population 1,101, to handle her recently deceased father’s business affairs and help her sister, Sadie, with their mom, who is suffering from dementia. Unexpectedly, Tommie receives a letter from an unknown woman in Chicago who claims to be Tommie’s birth mother and states that Tommie was kidnapped as a baby 30 years before.
What follows is a suspenseful mystery as Tommie follows a trail of clues that somehow link her life with the slaughter of a family in Chicago, the murder of a beauty queen in Oklahoma and a mafia don named Anthony Marchetti.
Tommie is a great narrator, a former rodeo queen who pokes fun at southern quirkiness, yet still extols the vast beauty of the land and skies of her native state. The reader will get caught up in the suspense of the story as Tommie comes to understand that everything she thought she knew about her childhood is suspect. With the help of a former lover, her hippy sister, a gruff newsman and a suspicious writer, Tommie unravels her past and uncovers unexpected secrets and lies about the family she thought she knew. This one kept me turning the pages and had some fantastic twists I didn’t see coming. Can’t wait to see what Ms. Heaberlin comes up with next!