Up front, I really had some problems with this book. Using a first person voice is a tricky business as you're automatically hoping that the reader can achieve some sort of personal connection with your central character. That doesn't always automatically have to be "like", but it's certainly got to include believe. The other thing you're going to have to do in a thriller where you spend a lot of time in the main character's head, is use motivations and actions that make sense. Alas neither option quite worked out in PLAYING DEAD.
The plot has quite an interesting idea at the core - a woman suddenly finds that everything she believed was true about her stable, loving family isn't. Of course you're going to have to accept that the letter that sends Tommie off in a cloud of confusion has to arrive just after her beloved father dies... and her mother's dementia is too far advanced for coherence, but, well coincidences happen don't they?
The problem I had with PLAYING DEAD really came down to questions of credibility - whilst the stable loving family thing sort of worked, albeit a little nauseating on occasions, our heroine, was too conveniently inconsistent. Strong, wild child, ex-rodeo rider, intelligent, educated, woman who went all daft as a brush as required. Not helped at all by the idea that she could boldly go wherever and whenever she damn well felt - as long as the big strong ex-boyfriend, conveniently in just the right line of work to step in and save the day, was ... well available to step in to save the day.
The question of credibility wasn't helped by the voice of the central character as well - it didn't quite jell. Whilst I guess it's possible that somebody with a degree in Psychology is the person least able to take a good hard look at themselves, but I kept wondering why she didn't at least have the occasional red light flashing in front of her eyes. I also couldn't quite get the idea that somebody who spent all those years on the rodeo circuit didn't seem to have any idea whatsoever of personal peril / risk assessment. I'm not talking a bit of an error, I'm talking what seemed to be repeatedly bashing your head into a brick wall and wondering what it is that's making your head hurt... Once all this started circling around in my mind, I found myself nitpicking which is never a good thing. Nitpicking about the need for Tommie to be beautiful, and the rodeo champion thing, and the need for the degree so she's not just all brawn, oh and let's chuck in rich into the bargain.
Having said all of that, perhaps what's going to make this book work for other readers is a sense of connection with Tommie. If you get that, then the rest of the stuff might not be an issue. Goodness knows I've read plenty of books where a central character's propensity for personally inflicted idiocy is neither here nor there, but I've believed in that character, been on their side if you like. Alas I couldn't quite make that connection in PLAYING DEAD.