Friday, November 27, 2015

Black-Eyed Susan's by Julia Heaberlin

Rating: I really liked it
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 11, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804177996
ISBN-13: 978-0804177993

I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories. I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans. The lucky one. As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row. Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans—a summertime bloom—just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications—that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large—Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve lost memories—and to share the drawings she produced as part of an experimental therapy shortly after her rescue. What they don’t know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night. Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

I am not a huge crime genre fan. I tend to find them a bit to gruesome and graphic for my tastes. Recently "The Eclectic Reader" posted her review on "Black-Eyed Susan's" and I admit to feeling intrigued enough to give it a go.

This story is told from the point of view of Tessa, a survivor of a serial killer attack. The point of view swings from adult Tessa's view and 16 year old Tessa's view. I felt the two points of view were written well and merged seamlessly together. It was not distracting at all and worked together to build the mystery. 

The mystery in this book is revealed slowly and carefully with it being quite hard to guess the end result. I certainly didn't guess the big reveal that's for sure. 

There is very little graphic violence in this book. It focuses on the mystery and the story telling. Tessa does describe her moments laying in a ditch while dying but it never gets too graphic.

I enjoyed Tessa as a character. She has moved on with her life and had a daughter. She struggles to allow her daughter freedom and ensure her safety. I like that Tessa, despite obvious anxieties and fears, still managed to get her life together and function normally. But we see her struggle as she pieces together her past and deal with what happened to her, while being a mother.

I really do recommend you read this book  as it is a clever, well written story with good pacing. I was hooked from the start and thoroughly enjoyed the story. If you would like to read another review check out Eclectic Readers review of Black-Eyed Susans, which is what brought this book to my attention in the first place.

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