Friday, 31 July 2015

Review: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: August 11th 2015
My rating: 4.5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
For fans of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn comes an electrifying novel of stunning psychological suspense.

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.

My Thoughts:
Black-Eyed Susans is a suspenseful mystery that will keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat! I devoured this story in 24 hours.

At the age of sixteen Tessa was a miracle as the only survivor in the Black-Eyed Susan murders.  She didn’t remember much about her abduction or the ordeal, and for many years she welcomed the unknown.  Back then Tessa was struggling with her own mental survival, not really pondering whether the authorities had the right guy, Terrell Darcy Goodwin, on trial. Now eighteen years later strange happenings make her think maybe they were wrong.  When an anti-death penalty advocacy group contacts Tessa to help re-examine Terrell’s case, initially, even with the nagging doubts, she’s reluctant to participate. Getting involved opens Tessa and her teenage daughter up to public scrutiny and attention, and brings up memories she’d rather forget, but a man’s life is at stake.

Flashbacks from the past alternating with chapters in the present slowly reveal Tessa’s story. The time jumps were brilliant! The tension progressively ratcheted up with each morsel of truth dealt out.  I had suspicions about the killer’s identity, but then I’d be led in another direction or a little twist would pop up and muddle my conclusions.  I love it when an author can keep my guessing!  My feelings over the final reveal were a mixture of astonishment and horror, especially in regards to one character in particular!  The last chapters and journal entries were a chilling peek into twisted thoughts.

For any romance junkies who wonder (like me) there was a little bit of romance, but it’s a very minor part of the story. Still, I’m happy it was included.

Julia Heaberlin’s writing was wonderfully suspenseful, taut with tension, and just the right amount of twists and turns to keep me glued to the pages!

Connect with Julia Heaberlin:


  1. I wouldn't have thought that this was a mystery book from that cover, Rachel. I have no idea why. This sounds so interesting though! I can't even imagine how traumatic the whole thing is for the main character. I like that you get a peek into the killer's mind too! I'm going to have to add this to my mystery TBR.
    Great review, Rachel!

  2. Oh gosh, Rachel. You just pick the right ones to entice me! I'm immediately hooked. Love a good mystery.

  3. Oooo I love the sound of this one Rachel! Normally time jumps drive me a little crazy and I get all disoriented, but in this case they clearly work well and I can't wait to give this a try. I want to be both astonished and horrified at the final reveal too!

  4. Sounds intense and exceptionally well plotted. I need to read it! Lovely review <3

  5. I was waiting on your verdict, Rachel. Ok, then this book goes to my tbr list. It sounds like something I would love. Amazing review!

  6. I love a good mystery and this sounds amazing! It sounds quite chilling and haunting but I like the inclusion of romance to it:) Great review!

  7. I agree with Nick! One look at that cover, I immediately thought it was going to be a romance drama! XD Glad to see I was wrong because as much as you are a lower of romance, I am a lover of mystery and thrill ;) You already got me with a main character who was the lone survivor of a mass killing. Being that kind of person can affect a person in so many ways and I want to know how the MC will be coping with that and how her being branded so will affect her future interactions with others. ADDED! I must be on the lookout for this :D

    Faye at The Social Potato

  8. Great review, Rachel! I'm so glad you liked this one - it's definitely my favorite suspense novel in a long time!!

  9. I have this coming up on my blog, soon. I really enjoyed this one as well. It is full of twists and turns and a big shocker. I am not overly thrilled though with the way the finale played out, I was left with a bunch of nagging questions. Still it was a solid and entertaining thriller. I am sad to hear you are taking some time away, Rachel, I will miss you. You have been with my blog since the beginning. I hate losing old friends, but I totally understand. I hope you will be back when things have settled down a bit.

  10. I haven't heard of this AT ALL. I looove that cover, though, and it's been so long since I heard of a really solid, suspenseful YA novel. I'm definitely going to be picking this up soon so thanks for putting it on my radar, Rachel! :)

  11. That cover looks so awesome :D Thank you for sharing about this book Rachel. <3 Stunning review sweet girl :) So glad you loved this book so much! You make it seem amazing :) Not for me just yet, one day I hope. <3

  12. I love it too when authors keep us guessing! Must read this book, great review, Rachel! :)

  13. This actually sound great! Love the sound of a mystery that keeps you guessing, because I tend to catch a lot of twists from a mile away.
    And of course, even a little bit of romance is better than no romance at all!
    Thanks for the review <3


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