A while back I reviewed Ghost Fleet, a novel that imagined what a third World War might look like. I found it frightening, to say the least. And unnervingly plausible.
Evidently, I'm not the only one who felt that way:
Navy Times: Ghost Fleet Offers a Realistic Look at an Imagined War
Discover Magazine: Ghost Fleet's Fiction Aims to Shape Minds on Future War
After reading Julia Heaberlin's Black Eyed Susans, I was determined to read more by Heaberlin. When BookBub offered Heaberlin's Playing Dead for $1.99, I snapped it up.
Tommie McCloud, former rodeo star, psychologist, and equine therapist, returns to her Texas home after the death of her father. As she deals with the grief of her father's death and her mother's descent into Alzheimer's, she gets another shock to her system: a letter from a woman in Chicago who claims that Tommie is her daughter and was kidnapped when she was a year old.
OK -- the plot is a bit fantastic, yet it didn't bother me much while I was reading. I liked the characters and the Texas atmosphere, but found the thread involving the Chicago mob(s) far-fetched and illogical. There were plenty of twists and turns, but not all details and digressions were resolved.
There are plenty of mysteries, some surprises, almost everyone carries at least one gun, the novel has a modern wild west flavor, seasoned with Chicago organized crime.
Playing Dead is Heaberlin's first novel. I liked it even though I thought it had flaws.
Mystery/Crime. 2012. Print version: 354 pages.
Thinking about all those guns made me wonder a bit about gun culture.
"Don't mess with Texas" was a great campaign slogan to prevent litter, but it has a wider application as well. A frontier mindset still exists in both fiction and fact about Texas. There is a Texas mythology that prevails even in minds of Texans who have never owned a gun, ridden a horse, or worked a ranch--but the reality is that most Texans don't "carry" or actually lead lives that in any way involve the Western myth. (Owning a gun and carrying a gun are quite different.)
I was curious about how Texas ranked in gun ownership because I live in a state that also has a love affair with guns. I found this article: Gun Owners as a Percentage of Each State's Population. Surprisingly, Texas ranked as #30 on the list with 35.9% of its population owning one or more guns. Wyoming held the #1 position with 59.7% .
But here is another way to look at it--the population of Wyoming (2014 census) is 584,173. The population of Texas is 26.96 million. While the percentages are higher in the sparsely populated state of Wyoming, the number of gun owners in Texas by far exceeds the number of gun owners in Wyoming.
It is funny what detours the mind takes when reading (or when writing about reading).
The state with the lowest percentage of gun ownership? Hawaii. Where does your state rank in gun ownership?