Theme Music

Theme Music

by T. Marie Vandelly


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An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly.

She didn't run from her dark past. She moved in. 
For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it; but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was spared, becoming infamously known as Baby Blue for the song left playing in the aftermath of the slaughter.

Twenty-five years later, Dixie is still desperate for a connection to the family she can’t remember. So when her childhood home goes up for sale, Dixie sets aside all reason and moves in. But as the ghosts of her family seemingly begin to take up residence in the house that was once theirs, Dixie starts to question her own sanity and wonders if the evil force menacing her is that of her father or a demon of her own making.

In order to make sense of her present, Dixie becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past and seeks out the detective who originally investigated the murders. But the more she learns, the more she opens up the uncomfortable possibility that the sins of her father may belong to another. As bodies begin to pile up around her, Dixie must find a way to expose the lunacy behind her family’s massacre to save her few loved ones that are still alive—and whatever scrap of sanity she has left.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524744700
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/23/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 264,011
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

T. Marie Vandelly has wanted to write her entire life but (after a career change) has only recently been granted the freedom to pursue her dream full-time. She lives on Gwynn's Island, in the Chesapeake Bay, with her husband and their two dogs. Theme Music is her first novel.

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Theme Music: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Sandy5 3 months ago
Creepy, weird, and the details…...this book was right up my alley! I’d read that this book shouldn’t be read in the dark but I’ve read that statement many other times for other books which I felt didn’t actually apply but this book, it’s twisted so dark would be perfect. I can’t tell you how many times I chatted, shouted and questioned this book while reading it, I really needed to step away from this book but I just couldn’t. So, what made this so grand? First, let me tell you that the story moves quickly, which I enjoyed. The book starts off swiftly and it doesn’t let up until the very end. As I was speeding along, flipping the pages, there were times that I was shaking my head, and yelling at the main character Dixie, as I couldn’t believe what she was doing, she had to be crazy! What happened? When Dixie was 18-months-old, her father killed their entire family and then, committed suicide. Dixie lost her parents and her four siblings that day and was then, raised by her Aunt Celia who has never really told Dixie about that day. Guess what? Dixie is an adult now and her childhood home is for sale, so she visits it. Yeah, it should be okay, she was 18-months-old when her life was turned upside down inside that house, she was too little to remember. Except, Dixie doesn’t see the houses best features on her showing but something more personal and startling. She still falls in love with the house and she buys it! Of course, she does! Talk about strange. The creepy doesn’t stop there though, as it’s Dixie’s LUCKY day and she’s blessed with the actual furniture that her parents kept in that house. Her relatives are so thoughtful and saved it. If you are thinking what I thought, you are correct, what is wrong with her? The fun or bizarre activity continued and I just couldn’t stop gripping the sides of this book. The book is very descriptive (which I loved) but it’s not done in a disgusting and/or exaggerated way. I enjoyed the way the author kept the book moving forward, how there were reveals along the way so I could check things off that were going on inside my head as I tried to figure out exactly what was happening. There were not a lot of characters in this book either. I liked the author’s execution and her style and I will definitely be reading more of her work in the future. I liked the journey that I took while reading this book, it’s not always about if someone can solve the book early or not. It’s about the journey. 4.5 stars
DianeD54 3 months ago
Theme Music fit right in with my theme of books I wanted to read for October. It is a psychological thriller filled with horror and some very descriptive gory scenes. It has the twists and turns that I love because it keeps you guessing until the end.
BookAddictFL 10 months ago
I was so excited to get an early copy of Theme Music. Then I read it, and now I'm excited that it's over. I'll start by telling you the things I liked. The writing style is engaging and the pace is quick. Yup, that's it. Now the things I didn't like. We have an entire cast of unlikable and/or seriously stupid characters. I know I should've felt empathy for Dixie, but I couldn't because her personality grated on my nerves throughout the entire story. Yet every single person she encounters accepts and/or excuses her erratic, strange, rude, questionable, totally insane behavior. Her boyfriend is a doormat. The woman living next door is a combination of a Stepford Wife and Ned Flanders. Her extended family rivals The Hillbillies and the retired cop treats her like a precious, fragile doll. It was all too much. When we got to the first major twist, I was relieved she'd finally figured it out because I was tired of shouting it at her as I read. The detectives who handled the original case had to be lazy and/or dumb, and we never see much, if any, investigation into the current disappearances and murders. The plot is wholly implausible. The ending made me shout, "Seriously?!", and I probably made a lot of facial expressions reflecting feelings that are inappropriate to describe here. Of course, this is just my opinion. I don't like peanut butter, but that doesn't mean no one else does. *I received an advance copy from NetGalley.*
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com 11 months ago
This was a seriously twisted book - mostly in a good way - and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even when I was reading with one hand over my eyes as though to shield my brain from what I was seeing... Dixie should be a difficult protagonist to relate to or like, but somehow I found myself doing both things almost from the get-go. She is broken. Indelibly broken. There's a very good reason for it, but Vandelly does a very nice job of never letting you forget that this is a girl on the edge and that her motives and actions are therefore not entirely to be trusted... At least, I felt that way right up until the Big Reveal , when it felt as though all of that previous edgy brokenness was somehow swept under the carpet and she was the sanest person in the room. I found that a bit jarring and discordant with the previous 95% of the story, but it was still interesting to see how it all played out. I think that's a testament to the author's ability to tell a good story. Even when things didn't feel quite right, they were still very engaging and I couldn't turn pages fast enough to figure out what would happen next. From the first pages I had no idea where the author was going with this one, in a very good way. It is indeed gruesome - there are no punches pulled and the violence is slathered on like butter on bread. For all that, it's a very entertaining story with a lot of lies and secrets and twists and red herrings, and I found the journeys into Dixie's mind to be some of the most fascinating bits of all. She's a great darkly funny, wry and sarcastic protagonist, and I loved how she had either a fainter or much broader grasp of reality than everyone around her at various points in the book. It made her a very interesting character and very enjoyable to read. It would have been a 4-star read for me, but for the weirdly tidy way everything got pulled together. That felt rushed and off pace with the vast majority of the book. It was a satisfying enough conclusion, don't get me wrong, it just felt like it all came together too fast and too tidily and that's the only thing that kept it from being a 4-star read for me. The writing is very good throughout, with more description than you'll want and a snarky tone that I thought was a graleat foil for all of the bloody violence. I will look for more from this author, although like other reviewers I hope it will be slightly less gruesome LOL, as this one nearly put me off breakfast with my family forever... :-) Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my review copy which was provided without any expectations.
Alfoster 11 months ago
I'm not usually one for creepy ghost stories, but OH, this book! Very surprising that it's a debut novel as I believe it rivals some of Stephen King's in terms of the "creep factor." Protagonist Dixie was a toddler when her father interrupted the family breakfast by butchering his wife, his young sons, and then slitting his own throat. Now, twenty-five years later, Dixie feels compelled to buy her old house that is up for sale as she feels there are answers awaiting her. Of course her boyfriend, Garrett is horrified by this decision and refuses to live there with her. And so begins her tale as the house appears to be haunted by her dead family; she hears unusual sounds, music, and personal items turn up where she least expects them. I would suggest not reading this at night; I did and it intensified the creepiness more than I imagined. Yes, it's bloody, gory, and really gruesome, but the storyline is worth it all! I look forward to reading more by Vandelly! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Anonymous 11 months ago
This book is a roller coaster ride, I had no idea where the writer was going, but man was it fun!! It is a bit graphic, but approached in a sensible way - I mean it was a gruesome murder Dixie witnessed of her entire family as a young child. Dixie has trouble with her past too, she's trying to unravel the truth of a very personal horrible crime and discover answers, did her father really kill his entire family only to leave Dixie as the sole survivor. I love the character of Dixie, she is so unique, a real psychological mix and mess, and her thoughts are hilarious at times, lol truly. Vandelly has a great style, her dialogue is very entertaining, some of the best I've read. Shocking surprises, red herrings, truly terrifying elements of horror, and a very satisfying ending - I look forward to more from this amazing new author!
diane92345 11 months ago
Twenty-five years ago Dixie’s entire family was murdered by her father with an axe. Her father then proceeded to cut his own throat leaving eighteen-month-old Dixie alive in her high chair. The Theme Music playing was Baby Blue by Badfinger, which is a break-up song about the singer’s girlfriend also called Dixie. When the house where the tragedy occurs goes up for sale, Dixie buys it over her boyfriend’s objections. She then starts going crazy. The prologue is fantastic. The rest of the book was bloody, violent, and grim. If you enjoy shock scares in a horror film (the killer jumps out from behind the shower curtain with an axe), this may appeal to you. It didn’t do much for me and seemed surprisingly boring in a “just get to the plot” type of way. I’ll give Theme Music 3 stars from me but your enjoyment may vary. Thanks to Dutton Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
nfam 11 months ago
A Chilling Murder Haunts a Young Woman’s Life On Thanksgiving morning, Dixie Wheeler’s father killed her brothers and mother with an ax before slitting his own throat. Seated in her highchair, Dixie witnessed the whole thing, but at twenty-seven she still can’t remember exactly what happened. Her life has been haunted by the killings even as an adult she can’t quite believe her father could have done such a thing. In spite of her mental health issues, Dixie is finally in a stable relationship with Garrett. They’ve been living together and now plan for permanence and want to buy a house. Although she knows she shouldn’t, Dixie can’t help visiting one of the houses for sale. It’s the house where her family was murdered. Against Garrett’s wishes, Dixie moves into the house and furnishes it with all the furniture stored by her aunt and uncle from the time of the murders. Once she moves in, strange things begin to happen. Are the ghosts of her family trying to contact her, or is she losing her mind? The longer she lives in the house the more she wonders if her father was the murderer. Now she needs to revive the old case to find out. The plot is a clever twist on the murder of an entire family. However, be prepared for plenty of blood from the prologue until the end. I didn’t mind it, but it is rather violent. Dixie is a character it’s sometimes hard to understand. She has a wry wit that is amusing, but at times her mental state seems out of control. I was disappointed in the police investigation from the original murders. It seemed so riddled with errors as to be unbelievable. It’s also fairly easy to guess what happened, because there are so few living characters. Still it’s an engrossing read. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
Anonymous 11 months ago
irstly fair warning to anything picking it up. It is pretty gory. I found it was done in a way that mostly still served the story so I was able to push past it but it may turn some people off. This book had me hooked from the very begging. It reminded me of a Stephen King novel. The book is fast paced and with a well developed main character. The book did such a good job of keeping you on your toes. Just how off the deep end has Dixie gone? I thought I had figured out where this book was going but then it kept throwing curve balls at me which I loved. This is one horror fans should not miss.
Chrissy_W 11 months ago
Did I enjoy this book? It definitely kept me reading from beginning to end, except at night. I couldn’t read this book at night. (I’m a scaredy-cat.) The descriptions of the murders are very graphic. So be prepared for a lot of blood and gore. Theme Music kept me guessing the whole way through. I thought quite a few different conclusions, but I didn’t see the ending coming as it did. Would I recommend it? If you like ghost stories and murder mysteries, then this psychological thriller is for you. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily chose to review this book, and the opinions are my own. ** This post first appeared on Every Free Chance Books ( on July 23, 2019.