Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Literature/Fiction (Adult)
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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?
Julia Heaberlin is a new author to me but I have to say that I really enjoyed her new upcoming thriller, Black-Eyed Susans.
Tessa is the victim of a serial-killer, left for dead on a pile of bones and bodies, who manages to send her monster to jail where he’s waiting for the death penalty. Now, years later, she is haunted by her past, the “Susans”, and desperate to keep her teenage daughter, Charlie, safe.
She has never been able to recall the details of her ordeal and as the execution date of her monster draws near, she’s beginning to have doubts. Has she let the wrong man go to jail?
The narrative switches between the past and present as Tessa relives her experience, therapy, the trial, and interactions with her best friend, Lydia, who hasn’t been seen since the trial ended.
The beginning was a little slow for me and I didn’t really become engaged in the story until a quarter of the way through. It was even a bit confusing in the beginning which I attribute to having to adjust to the narrative style and the constant flip-flopping between the past and present. It was a bit distracting, but eventually I was able to get into the flow of it.
I also felt that there was a huge emphasis on the court proceedings/death penalty process and less on some of the really key moments, like the explanation of ‘what really happened’ to Tessa, so that was bit of a letdown for me. Though I can appreciate the care and research that went into making those trial moments ‘real’.
I was intrigued by Lydia’s character and wanted more of her. Think manipulative, dark and very secretive. Tessa’s daughter, Charlie, and her eccentric neighbor, Effie, were likeable characters that I felt really grounded the story. And for a teenager, Charlie handles getting dragged into her mom’s crazy world like a champ!
Overall, though, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it to a friend. There were great twists and revelations that made it truly enjoyable in the end! It might even be worth a second read to see if there were things I didn’t pick up on before.
Definitely worth adding to your “to-read” list.