We Are All the Same in the Dark, by Julia Heaberlin

Two years ago, I read a mystery/thriller that absolutely knocked my socks off. Julia Heaberlin’s Paper Ghosts did brilliant, unexpected things to the genre, things that had me reflecting on how powerful the court of public opinion can be. Since reading that novel, I’ve kept my eye open for Heaberlin’s name. When I saw We Are All the Same in the Dark on NetGalley, I leapt at the chance to read it. It was everything I hoped it would be. To be honest, Heaberlin’s books are so amazing I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about her.

The Texas town at the heart of We Are All the Same in the Dark never recovered from the disappearance of Trumanell Branson. Trumanell was one of those rare souls who is beautiful, inside and out, the kind that surprises the dusty, rural community that produces that kind of soul. When she and her notorious father went missing—ten years before the book opens—blame attached to Trumanell’s brother, Wyatt. Wyatt has lived in a dangerous limbo ever since. Everyone in town believes that Wyatt killed his sister and father, but there’s no evidence to condemn or exonerate him. Wyatt’s former girlfriend (now cop), Odette Tucker, is one of the few people who believes in Wyatt’s innocence. But Odette has her own troubles to deal with, since she lost her leg on the same night that Trumanell went missing.

We Are All the Same in the Dark is the kind of book that begins with a bang and never lets up. The plot get so intense that I had to take a couple of breaks because I kept forgetting to breath as Odette and, later, Angel, the girl Wyatt and Odette rescue at the beginning of the novel, turn up clues that finally resolve the mystery of what happened to the two missing Bransons. Odette uses a makeshift murder book (disguised as a Betty Crocker cookbook) and her deceased father’s belongings to work on the case during most of her free time. Five years later, Angel returns to the town to find out what happened to Trumanell and Odette, once and for all.

Thriller fans and readers who like mysteries that don’t follow the usual patterns will enjoy the highly atmospheric and almost unbearably tense We Are All the Same in the Dark. Heaberlin’s already outstanding plot is deepened by her research on how people physically and psychologically adapt to the loss of a limb or an eye. The characterization in this book is top-notch. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

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