We Are All the Same in the Dark

We Are All the Same in the Dark

by Julia Heaberlin


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PEOPLE PICK • The discovery of a girl abandoned by the side of the road threatens to unearth the long-buried secrets of a Texas town’s legendary cold case in this superb, atmospheric novel from the internationally bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans.

“If you only read one thriller this year, let it be this one. Psychologically absorbing, original and atmospheric. I could not turn the pages fast enough.”—Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 28 Summers

It’s been a decade since Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Her pretty face still hangs like a watchful queen on the posters on the walls of the town’s Baptist church, the police station, and in the high school. They all promise the same thing: We will find you. Meanwhile, her brother, Wyatt, lives as a pariah in the desolation of the old family house, cleared of wrongdoing by the police but tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion and in a new documentary about the crime.

When Wyatt finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, making silent wishes, he believes she is a sign. The town’s youngest cop, Odette Tucker, believes she is a catalyst that will ignite a seething town still waiting for its own missing girl to come home. But Odette can’t look away. She shares a wound that won’t close with the mute, one-eyed mystery girl. And she is haunted by her own history with the missing Tru.

Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and to dig up the shocking truth about a fateful night in the past—the night her friend disappeared, the night that inspired her to become a cop, the night that wrote them all a role in the town’s dark, violent mythology.

In this twisty psychological thriller, Julia Heaberlin paints unforgettable portraits of a woman and a girl who redefine perceptions of physical beauty and strength.

Praise for We Are All the Same in the Dark

“This chilling tale of buried sins is relentlessly unpredictable.”The Times (South Africa)

“[Julia] Heaberlin knows how to build to a truly shocking twist, how to break a reader’s heart and then begin mending it. ‘What’s coming is always unimaginable,’ Odette’s one-time therapist tells her, ‘and by that, I mean just that. It cannot be imagined. What’s coming never acts or behaves the way we think it will.’ That’s true for this novel, too.”The Dallas Morning News

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 06/15/2020

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

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525621676
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/11/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 35,603
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

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Read an Excerpt


It takes about eight to ten hours to hand-dig a grave, more if you was doing it in the dark. Five to six if you have a helper. It ain’t like the movies. You need more than just a spade with a good blade. You need a chainsaw for splitting the roots. A pick. Even if you don’t hit rocks, you got Texas clay, which can be as bad as rocks. I always carry a measuring tape and a yardstick, because you’ve got to make a hole a lot bigger than in your mind’s eye. And you’ve got to go deep enough that folks and animals walking by can’t smell the body rotting. I’d go eighteen inches of soil on top to be safe. Bottom line, if you’re asking me my opinion, I don’t think that Branson girl will ever be found. I never saw anything like the search for her body. Every farm. Every bit of lake property. The cops got a color-coded map and took it inch by inch, year by year, until it was all done. I’ll tell you this: If that girl was buried around here, and buried fast, she was buried by someone who knows his dirt. That might be a farmer. That might be a person who’s killed a lot.

—Albert Jenkins, 66, cemetery gravedigger

Excerpt from The Tru Story crime documentary 

Customer Reviews