The disappearance of popular 19-year-old cheerleader Trumanell Branson and her violent father, Frank, still haunts Odette Tucker, a West Texas town’s youngest deputy, 10 years later in this exceptional thriller from Heaberlin (Black-Eyed Susans). Trumanell’s bloody handprint on her home’s door was the only clue; her brother, Wyatt, now the town pariah and vilified in a TV documentary, is still the chief suspect. Odette visits Wyatt’s remote farmhouse after hearing rumors that he has kidnapped a teenage girl. Wyatt claims he found the girl, whom he calls Angel, dumped in a field. Odette, who lost a leg in a traumatic accident, instantly bonds with Angel, who lost an eye while suffering violent abuse. Odette strives to help Angel, who at first refuses to talk, as she tries to unravel the mystery of what happened to Trumanell, whose reputation remains that of a near saint. After a devastating twist halfway through, the intense plot builds to an emotional finale. Heaberlin sensitively addresses issues of survival and vulnerability in this heart-wrenching gothic tale. Agent: Kim Witherspoon at Inkwell Management. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Tense, darkly atmospheric . . . Gracefully written, with characters that leap off the page and into your imagination, this takes your breath away with its sudden twists.”—Daily Mail
“We Are All the Same in the Dark succeeds because Heaberlin is working on three levels—offering a fast-paced thriller centered around Angel and a slow-burning mystery focused on Trumanell, while never losing sight of her characters’ humanity.”—Texas Monthly
“Elegant prose, headstrong heroines, and gorgeously wrought Texas atmosphere . . . a splendid ride with a jaw-dropper of a twist in the middle.”—NJ online
“The author of Black-Eyed Susans returns with an elegantly written tale, set in a world where women are vulnerable and men are dangerous, the finger of suspicion pointing at them all.”—Daily Express (UK)
“[Julia Heaberlin] once again brilliantly captures the atmosphere and rough beauty of a strange and divided state.”—CrimeReads
“Exceptional . . . After a devastating twist halfway through, the intense plot builds to an emotional finale. Heaberlin sensitively addresses issues of survival and vulnerability in this heart-wrenching gothic tale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“One of my favorite reads of the year . . . [Heaberlin’s] beautiful prose propelled me through this spine-chilling novel. . . .The book is absolutely mesmerizing.”—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence
“I loved this book: gorgeous writing, interesting characters, a unique setting, and an unsettling, surprising mystery. Everyone needs to put this book on their to-be-read list right now!”—Amy Engel, bestselling author of The Familiar Dark
“A gripping, richly layered exploration of haunted souls in a haunted place . . . a story that keeps you guessing at every turn.”—Lou Berney, author of November Road
“One of the best standalone mysteries I’ve read in a while . . . thrilling and complex, with richly imagined characters who will break your heart even as they confront the monsters, real and imagined, that hide in the dark.”—Kathleen Kent, author of The Burn and the Edgar finalist The Dime
“Unsettling and atmospheric . . . tense and edgy . . . Julia Heaberlin holds you spellbound all the way to the emotional and devastating conclusion.”—Lesley Kara, internationally bestselling author of The Rumor
“An intense, intelligent thrill-ride of a book—undoubtedly the one I will be recommending all year.”—Elizabeth Haynes, New York Times bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner
“Raw, stunning, both otherworldly and lapel-grabbing, this is the book to grab when you need something to grab you. Julia Heaberlin has written a tour de force.”—Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder and The Butterfly Girl
The discovery of a mute girl by the side of the road sparks new interest in an old mystery.
It’s been 10 years since Trumanell Branson and her father disappeared from their small Texas town one strange night. The only potential witness, Trumanell’s younger brother, Wyatt, spent years in a mental institution afterward, and his girlfriend, Odette—the police chief’s daughter—was involved in a horrible car accident that took her leg that same night. Now Odette is a police officer herself and determined to figure out what happened to Trumanell, even if it costs her her marriage. Everyone in town thinks Wyatt killed his sister and got away with it, especially with the recent release of a documentary implicating him, so when he finds a mute teenager in trouble one day and brings her home, Odette has to work as a friend, not a cop, to figure out what really happened to both this girl and Trumanell before the town turns on Wyatt again. Hints of past trauma haunt this book, which does an excellent job of dealing with what real life looks like for an amputee, as Odette has lost her leg and the teenager has lost an eye. What isn’t so clear is what Heaberlin, a former journalist, wants to say about the idea of the lost girl in crime fiction, especially with the twist the novel takes halfway through. While there are nuggets of fresh ideas, the themes get a bit muddled. There are, however, interesting twists and turns in the narrative that will carry the reader along. The destination might not be wholly satisfying, but the ride is fun.
An exciting though flawed thriller of lost girls and buried trauma in small-town Texas.