Black-eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans

A Novel of Suspense

Book - 2015?
Average Rating:
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TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES  AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER * For fans of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn comes an electrifying novel of stunning psychological suspense.

"My book of the year so far . . . breathtakingly, heart-stoppingly brilliant."--Sophie Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Monogram Murders

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.

Praise for Black-Eyed Susans

"A masterful thriller that shouldn't be missed . . . brilliantly conceived, beautifully executed . . . [Julia] Heaberlin's work calls to mind that of Gillian Flynn. Both writers published impressive early novels that were largely overlooked, and then one that couldn't be: Flynn's Gone Girl and now Heaberlin's Black-Eyed Susans . Don't miss it." -- The Washington Post

"[A] gem of a novel . . . richly textured, beautifully written . . . Tension builds, and the plot twists feel earned as well as genuinely surprising." -- The Boston Globe

"A tense, slow-burning, beautifully written novel of survival and hope. Highly recommended." --William Landay, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob

"Deliciously twisty and eerie, Heaberlin's third psychological suspense novel is intricately layered and instantly compelling." -- Library Journal (starred review)

"Brilliant . . . a breakout book." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2015?]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780804177993
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 354 pages ; 25 cm

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m
Margush
Jun 25, 2016

30 pages later and I was still reading 'witty' and 'analytical' remarks of the main character to her shrink. 50 pages later and gave up linking her 'smartness' to her life adventures and black eyed Susans. Mind you, 50 pages later there was no clue as to why that name was chosen or how it was associated with that flower. I sent the book back as soon as I realized that I learned nothing about anything having read those 50 pages, and I have zero interest to anyone who tries hard to be a 'smart' and pretentious cookie and that exactly what the main female character is. Not my read at all.

s
swayes01
May 26, 2016

I started off loving this book and couldn't put it down. HOWEVER, 2/3's of the way through I felt totally manipulated and the "who-done-it? You're kidding, right?

b
brangwinn
Feb 21, 2016

After reading this book I want to read more by Heaberlin. The fast-paced narrative is told by a strong female character, Tessa, who was left by dead in a grave with other girls. Switching from the events that followed the crime to current times, we see Tessa’s conflict and worry that the murderer is still out there. Working with a forensic bone specialist and a lawyer, she is convinced the wrong man is behind bars. It wasn’t until the end that I realized how Heaberlin managed to create the feeling that something is not right with two prominent characters, but it’s not until the very end that the pieces are all put in place.

f
fauna
Dec 18, 2015

Not very well developed and slightly confusing.

b
Books4me_12
Dec 09, 2015

I loved Julia's first two novels, and waited anxiously for the third book. I was disappointed. After the first few chapters I finally got into the swing of switching between Tessa and Tessie. This was actually an effective way to tell the backstory and current action. Then this rhythm abruptly changed over to Tessa and Lydia. As we raced to the climax and resolution, I felt cheated. The resolution was faulty and unsatisfying. I was left wanting more. I will add, however, as always, I enjoyed the male counterpart to the heroine. Bill was a well written character, and I wanted more of his grounded wisdom. Who am I to critique Julia Heaberlin? Let's just call me a strong, but disillusioned fan. Guess you can't win them all.

r
readlisten
Dec 01, 2015

Poorly written, disjointed and confusing.

ehbooklover Nov 10, 2015

A psychological thriller that grabbed me from the very beginning and would not let go. On top of the never-ending suspense, this book was full of interesting and eccentric characters and had lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing right up until the end. Highly recommended for fans of Gillian Flynn.

e
epelto12
Oct 30, 2015

The “Black Eyed Susans” were the girls found left in a hole in a field of the black and yellow flowers. Some were mere skeletons, while some were freshly dead. But one survived. Tessie.

Black Eyed Susans is a thrilling novel that bounces from the present day Tessa (her name now), and Tessie after the attack. Tessie is an angry, angsty teenager who has to go through a lot of challenges after she is found and brought safely home. Tessa is a single mother of a teenage daughter who is helping to exonerate the man who was wrongfully convicted as her kidnapper and attempted murderer. The contrast between these two points of view gives the reader a well-rounded perspective of the crime, the aftermath, and Tessa’s life as an adult, trying to figure out what actually happened to her on that fateful day.

This is one of my favorites of the year. It’s packed with twists, shocking revelations, and an ending you won’t see coming.

a
aliciamarie
Sep 12, 2015

Tessa was a 16 year old girl who was found almost completely buried among a patch of Black-Eyed Susans in a field. She was nearly dead and among her was the body of a dead girl along with the bones of 2 other girls. She is the lone survivor of "The Black-Eyed Susans", the nickname given to the girls who murderer meant for them all to share the same flowery grave. Though her memory is fragmented, Tessa's testimony sent a man to death row.
Nearly 20 years later Tessa is now an adult. A mother of a girl who is almost the same age she was when this horrific ordeal occurred. The "murderer" is soon to be put to death, but Tessa isn't so sure he is the one actually responsible due to the fact she finds a patch of Black-Eyed Susans under her bedroom window in the death of winter.
This book was fabulous! It alternates between 17 year old Tessa trying to remember what happened after she was found, and current day Tessa who is a single mother striving to give her teenage daughter a normal life while also trying to reassure herself that the murderer isn't still stalking her while an innocent man awaits death.
Fearing she made a mistake in helping convict an innocent man she turns to the legal team working to free the inmate. Bill is a passionate lawyer who believes his client was wrongly convicted using "junk science". Jo is a scientific genius, who specializes in recovering DNA from bones thought to be unidentifiable. All together the three of them create a cast of characters who fit so well together, yet at the same time are so different that it makes for an amusing story.
Young Tessa's life is just as entertaining, and includes her best friend at the time, Lydia, who is an eccentric teen with a love of morbid stories and isn't afraid to speak her mind. Tessa's court appointed therapist also helps her try to retrieve missing memories but at the same time doesn't want to push his patient too hard.
Later on in the story we get to read trial transcripts, which I thought was a very clever way for the author to tell the story.
This book is a thriller, mystery, and a hint of romance. The plot moves along smoothly and kept me intrigued. The twists thrown in here and there left my mind swirling and wondering where Heaberlin would take this story next. The ending was NOT anything I saw coming.
Black-Eyed Susans was an engrossing read that I would recommend to anyone wanting a quick weekend read. It is a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. A 5 star read!

g
gusmcrae
Sep 08, 2015

"Black-Eyed Susans" offers a terrifying and twisty look into one woman's search for the truth. Kidnapped and nearly murdered, Tessa finds herself wondering if the wrong man sits on Death Row for the crime. Prompted by flowers that appears to have been left by the real killer, she sets out to sort through her foggy memories to find out the truth of what happened to her. Author Heaberlin expertly weaves the present with the past to tell Tessa's story. The chapters in the present follow Tessa as she retraces her steps and revisits places from her past. The "flashback" chapters are not really traditional flashbacks--they are mostly set during Tessie's (as she was known in her teen years) psychiatrist visits, which she attends after her rescue from a serial killer's shallow grave. I tended to enjoy the present day chapters the most, but I think the flashbacks provide valuable insight into her experiences and how she ended up where she did. The novel also moves at a nice pace as Tessa races against the clock to find the truth.

At the end of "Black-Eyed Susans" I was left a bit wanting. Although the author lays out just what happened, I still had questions. Despite this, I found the book to be a very satisfying read and one that I'm glad I picked up.

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