Friday, 9 October 2015

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Black-Eyed Susans
By Julia Heaberlin
Published by Michael Joseph (13 August 2015)
ISBN: 978-0718181338

Publisher's description
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?

My verdict
Black-Eyed Susans started off slowly but turned into a gripping and creepy psychological thriller.

Tessa has never fully recovered from her narrow escape from a serial killer when she was 17. Left to die with three other girls, she was dubbed a 'Black-Eyed Susan' by the media, as their bodies were found in a field covered with these flowers. She was the only one to survive. Now decades later, she can still barely remember anything about her experience. When Black-Eyed Susans are planted outside her window, it seems that the convicted killer (still behind bars) may not be guilty after all.

This is a complex thriller with well-developed characters and an intriguing plot. The chapters alternate between 17-year-old 'Tessie' and Tessa in the present day. When it becomes apparent that the original killer may be on the loose, Tessa is concerned about the safety of her 14-year-old daughter. She is also obsessed with memories of her childhood friend Lydia, who vanished without a trace soon after the serial killer was put behind bars.

This is a book that you need to concentrate on. Layer by layer, the author builds a picture of Tessa and her life then alongside her life now. The narrative is highly detailed, with fascinating well-researched forensics. I did eventually guess part of the twist, but not all of it, and the ending was still a complete surprise.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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