HomeBooks‘We Are All the Same in the Dark’ is Sure to Become a Southern Classic Thriller

‘We Are All the Same in the Dark’ is Sure to Become a Southern Classic Thriller

Acclaimed journalist and Texas native Julia Heaberlin’s new book We Are All the Same in the Dark is sure to have murder mystery fans on the edge of their seats.

Using her intimate understanding of Southern culture and cold, journalistic approach to writing, Heaberlin paints a vivid picture of a small, Southern town forever haunted by a long-unsolved mystery. Her story is as charming as it is captivating, sculpting an immersive world that’s also chilling.

Trumanell Branson was a town icon, beloved by many. So when Trumanell and her father disappear seemingly into thin air, the community is—understandably—up in arms. The obvious suspect is her brother, Wyatt, the lone survivor in the household, but police are unable to find sufficient evidence to lock him up.

Fast-forward 10 years and Wyatt, who is still in denial about his sister’s death, finds a teenage girl with one eye stranded off the side of the highway. She’s clearly been abused and is, unfortunately, mute. Reluctantly, he decides to bring her home to see what the now imaginary “Trumanell” has to say about it. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Odette Tucker, a local cop who has been working to solve the mystery of what happened to Trumanell for years. She’s also Wyatt’s ex-girlfriend and one of the last people who believe Wyatt didn’t kill Trumanell.

Odette now seeks to solve the mystery of what happened to the girl, who is now dubbed “Angel,” and, in turn, maybe get a new lead in the case.

While it may sound like a relatively basic murder mystery, the characters in Heaberlin’s new book make it anything but. Every character is three-dimensional with various strengths and weaknesses, and they all ooze a certain Texas charm that anyone who’s visited the region will immediately recognize.

Odette, for example, is determined and strong, but at the same time, she cares deeply for Angel and Wyatt. But her determination makes her stubborn and oftentimes self-destructive—and her faith in Wyatt’s innocence often places her at odds with her partner, Rusty, who believes Wyatt is guilty. Not to mention she’s at odds with her husband after a drunken one-night stand with Wyatt.

Heaberlin’s dialog captures the spirit of the region well, as one can almost hear the townsfolks’ Southern drawls on the page. Characters will use terms like “spook bone” and often make references to the Bible and Donald Trump. It won’t be long before the reader feels like they’ve been transported to a humble little suburb in Texas.

We Are All the Same in the Dark is quite heartwarming as well, as it touches on themes of unconventional beauty and putting yourself back together after being broken in the form of Angel’s missing eye and Odette’s missing leg.

Writing a Suspense Novel as Good as ‘Rebecca:’ Julia Heaberlin on her 2015 novel Black-Eyed Susans. 

If you’re looking for a book with lots of twists and turns, We Are All the Same in the Dark is for you. It’s almost completely unpredictable. Heaberlin is always adding new details to the mystery and you’re sure to be questioning every character’s motivations as the book continues.

We’re also sure you won’t see the ending coming.

If Heaberlin’s new novel has an Achilles’ heel, it’s the pacing. While her world-building skills are the novel’s best asset in many ways, she often gets carried away, giving overly detailed descriptions of the environment, while the reader is impatiently waiting to see what happens next.

Nonetheless, We Are All the Same in the Dark is an exciting thrill ride for fans of mystery novels and fans of the Southern Gothic. When you aren’t going back over clues in your mind trying to figure out just who the culprit is, you’ll be completely immersed in this little Texas town.

Review of 'The South
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