Last year my book club picked up this unique book. I had seen a lot of praise for it and it was often called ‘THE thriller to read if you only read one this year’. What I loved about it was that each character was so impossibly flawed and damaged. Not just emotionally but physically too and I loved watching how that unfolded and impacted the story.
It wasn’t a perfect read for me and it earned a three star review from me which puts it firmly in the ‘good’ category when people ask me if I liked it. But what I think is so important about this book and why you would want to read it is because there is so much to discuss! Of all the books I read this last year, this one has consistently stood out to me. I recall the story and characters so well and I think we had one of our best book club discussions about the characters and their flaws.
It’s memorable and unique and now that it’s out in paperback, I thought I would re-share my original review with you guys so you could see what we thought of this one! Even if it’s not perfect, I think that’s the whole point and spirit of the book itself. If you are a fan of thrillers this is one you should have on your list!
Since I devoured my November book club pick in a matter of 2 days, as did just about everyone else in our book club. So we decided to pick a second book for November and this was it.
I had seen a ton of praise for this book all over Goodreads and on my social media so I was eager to read this one and see if it was as chilling as everyone was saying. I haven’t had a really really really great thriller lately so I had high hopes with this book.
I liked that the characters all had ‘issues’, whether it was emotional or physical impairments. I thought it would give our book club a lot to discuss and kind of ‘unpack’ when we had our monthly meet up!
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 best-selling 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, number-one New York Times best-selling 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. (summary from Goodreads)
Well, I don’t know that I loved this one in the way that I had hopped. I mean I listened to it quite aggressively but mostly because we were on a road trip and it was the only book I had downloaded. I was very intrigued by the premise and I loved Odette as a main character. She was sharp, inspiring, and tenacious but also had her own flaws/demons to conquer. Of all the characters in the book she was my favorite.
I felt like this book could have really done more with the plot. I didn’t mind the first half of the book being about Odette and the second half being about Angel but I think that Odette’s character and story demanded more. So much of it felt unfinished and unresolved. Though I think that might have been the point.
One of the things that bothered me the absolute most though was that I knew who the killer was after the shovel. I won’t elaborate too much on that but you would have to be pretty dense not to know who the killer was at that point and that happened about 45% of the way through.
There were plenty of red herrings and suspects that you just didn’t trust, but at the same time I already knew it wasn’t any of them but I think the author could have really gone all in with some of the red herrings. For example, the doctor who recorded Odette…..that really could have added a lot to the story but in the end didn’t really have much impact.
While I enjoyed this one and there were times when I was nervous for the characters, I felt like it was a lot less suspenseful than I had hoped. But the characters had a lot of potential and I loved that both Odette and Angel had ‘lost something’. I thought their physical limitations made them so intriguing and multilayered, I was just sad that the mystery didn’t carry the same impact as the characters.
Side note, I did the audio edition of this book and thought the narrators did a nice job adding authenticity to the story. It was set in West Texas and the narrators had the twang of Texas which was fun to listen to!
Book Info and Rating
Audible Audio, Unabridged
Published August 11th 2020 by Random House Audio
Review copy provided by personal collection, all opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: thriller, suspense, mystery