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.
I think like most people, I have been really struggling to read in the current climate. Picking up and putting down so many books over the last three months. Until I grabbed this one – I did not/could not put this down.
The book is told from three perspectives. It opens with Wyatt, you immediately get the sense that things aren’t quite right there. He finds a girl on the highway and decides she is there as a message from God. He knows he shouldn’t pick her up, that he has been cleared of a crime but convicted by the town nevertheless. This sets off a whole chain of events for Wyatt and the others.
Odette takes over from here, she was Tru’s friend and Wyatts ex-girlfriend. She’s moved back to her small town with her lawer husband Finn. Now a cop following in her family’s footsteps. Determined to solve the mystery of what happened all those years ago.
In the final part of the book Angel takes over the narrative. The girl that Wyatt picked up off the highway. We start to see how the threads all get pulled together.
All the characters in this story are beautifully flawed, both in personality and physically. Wyatt is a very unreliable narrator due to his mental health and the loss of his sister. By the time we meet Odette she is running on empty, paranoid and unsure who she can even trust. Angel has suffered a lot of trauma in her past so you are unsure of her motives.
There is disabled rep in the story and I felt it was handled really well. Odette is an amputee and Angel has a missing eye, both the result of trauma. This isn’t brushed under the carpet or just mentioned in passing. Julia has included the PTSD they both suffer as a result of this. How they have overcome their disabilities to live their lives but it still has a daily effect on them both. She shows how this becomes part of their personalities and how they view the world.
Right from the opening lines of this novel you get a sense of the oppressive summer heat of Texas, which sets the tone and atmosphere. The small town mentality, the fact that everyone knows everyone else’s business makes it feel all the more overbearing.
I’m not going to say too much about the story, but the twists and turns kept me on my toes and left me reeling. Lots of ‘wait, what?!’ moments. The pacing is superb and I flew through the pages.
This is a tense, atmospheric read that kept me guessing and I certainly didn’t work out how it was all going to come together. I highly recommend you pick this up. I will be reading Black Eyed Susan, Julia’s other book as I am now totally hooked on her writing style.
My thanks to Penguin for a copy of the book via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.