Title: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
Date Published: 13th August 2015
Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.
Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.
Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?
Before I start my review I’m going to tell you how I ended up owning this book. I got given book voucher for my birthday, went into the bookshop and there was a sale on, I spot the gorgeous cover and then glancing at the blurb I saw the words serial killer and I thought I’ll buy that. It has been sitting on my shelf for two years. I didn’t even realise until six months after I bought it, it was signed by the author! So, yeah, I knew I had to read this as part of my next Bedtime Book Reviews.
The book follows the story of Tessa, the only surviving victim of the Black Eyed Susan serial killer. She remembers nothing about the attack, thirty two hours of her life is missing. She did her best to move on but the imminent execution of Terrell Darcy Goodwin, the man convicted of her attack, somebody plants black-eyed susans under window. Is her monster back?
This is the third time I’ve tried to read this book over the years, I’ve never got past the first few chapters but after over a week I managed to get through the whole book.
The narrative is split between Tessa, in the present day and Tessie her teenage self back in 1995 just after the attack. Tessa is such an interesting character, haunted by the voices of the other ‘susans’ she has her own teenage daughter too and miraculously she doesn’t seem to be doing too bad a job at living a normal life. If I were in her shoes, the victim of a serial killer who I thought was still out there, I would be curled up in a padded room that I never have to come out of.
There is also her best friend Lydia who features quite a lot, who frankly for most of the story I thought was in her head (don’t ask me why). There’s that air of uncertainty around her, why hasn’t Tessa seen her for twenty years, was she a victim of the Black-eyed susan killer too?
I have to be honest writing about this review, I’m genuinely not sure how I feel about it. Was the writing good? Yes. Was the storyline good? Yes. Were the characters memorable? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Not exactly. I think it all comes down to unnerving air about the whole book and the fact I had to go back over sentences sometimes because they didn’t make sense to me the first time around.
Overall an intense and intriguing story that I’d probably recommend for super fans of psychological thrillers.
About The Author:
Julia Heaberlin is the internationally bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans as well as two other psychological thrillers, Lie Still and Playing Dead. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Detroit News and The Dallas Morning News. She has edited numerous real-life murder mysteries, including a series on the perplexing and tragic deaths of girls buried in the Mexican desert. She lives with her husband and son in Texas where she is at work on her next novel.
Up next on Bedtime Book Reviews – Chalk Man by C L Tudor.