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Black-Eyed Susans: A Novel of Suspense by…
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Black-Eyed Susans: A Novel of Suspense (2015)

by Julia Heaberlin

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4998120,441 (3.7)30
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    End of Story by Peter Abrahams (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These menacing psychological suspense stories star intelligent young women seeking the truth about convicted murderers. Although their investigations place them in mortal danger, the desire to see justice served trumps personal safety. Both tales are fast-paced and intricately plotted.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
A thrilling suspense novel that keeps readers guessing as the story alternates between modern day and 1995 when a heinous crime occurs. Tessa was one of the lucky ones, the only black-eyed Susan who wasn't murdered. When she was in high school she was left for dead in a shallow grave with two other young dead women. She has no recall of what actually happened, it's as if her brain shut off. Her testimony helped put a man behind bars and now that his execution is coming up she has some doubts, as do many others. Is her really the one that tried to murder her? What if she's wrong? Also, who keeps planting black-eyed susans outside her window. Is the real killer still at large? I did not see the end coming, although I still have a few unanswered questions. An okay read. ( )
  ecataldi | Jul 14, 2018 |
This was more of a slow burn type of suspense/mystery as opposed to an edge of your seat read. I enjoyed it and had a few characters pegged for the murderer and was pleasantly surprised when none of them were correct. The ending was strategically left with just a few questions left unanswered as if the author just might continue on with the story, or she just wanted to leave you thinking what if. Solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ( )
  karenvg3 | Mar 19, 2018 |
I love reading mysteries and thrillers that deals with what happens after a traumatic accident. What happens to that person who was rescued or who has gone through some kind of terrible/horrific tragedy? How do they start viewing the world and how does that change things? Maybe it's the psychology student in me but I've always found this area to be fascinating. Throw in some more crazy plot twists, and I get super excited! So before I go on and on and spoil the whole story plot for this novel, here is my review:

16-year old Tessa Cartwright was found buried in a field in Texas, barely alive and surrounded by scattered bones. She has no idea how she got there or who did this to her. Since she is the only survivor, she has become known as the "Black-Eyed Susan", a nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow wildflowers that covered their grave site. After being hounded by the press for months on end, Tessa is finally trying to move on with her life. She even manages to give a testimony about those tragic hours, a testimony that puts a man on death row. Now, almost two decades later, certain events make Tessa believe that the wrong man is behind bars. It's up to Tessa to go back into her memories and find out what really happened all of those years ago.... before the real killer comes back for her.

Let me start by saying that the story plot is intriguing and it kept me going throughout the novel. I just had to know who it was and what was happening. I liked that the story switched from one time-point and POV to the other; it made it all the more fascinating. Reading about the trauma and the struggles that Tessa goes through as she tries to be "normal" was also very interesting and felt very realistic, which is something I always like. That being said, there were parts to the ending that definitely fell short for me. Although I would never have been able to guess who the real killer was nor how everything played out, there were a lot of unanswered questions. Also, I didn't like how the author just dismissed some of the behaviours that Tessa did as mere paranoia on the character's part; although it works with the story, it would have been better if there had been some significance to it all. It definitely kept me occupied and I was not able to put it down, so that is a good sign! Is it on Gillian Flynn's level? No. But it was definitely a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes light thrillers with a psychological flair. ( )
  veeshee | Jan 29, 2018 |
Review copy provided by NetGalley for an honest review. Review First published on my blog, Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Black-Eyed Susan by Julia Heaberlin
Ballantine Books, 2015
Crime Fiction; 368 pgs

I read Julia Heaberlin's Playing Dead a few years ago and really liked it. When I got the opportunity to read her latest novel, Black-Eyed Susans, I jumped at the chance.

Right from the start I was hooked to this story about a woman who is revisiting her own kidnapping two decades before, when she was sixteen, trying to put a face to the man who left her to die in a shallow grave alongside his other victims, already dead. The narrative of the novel alternates between Tessie at 16 and her adult self, Tessa, which affords the reader the perfect view of the impact such a traumatic event can have on a person, both immediately following an event and years later.

Tessie's last memory before waking up in a grave was of going to the store to buy a candy bar for the homeless man she always passed on her run. Not only does Tessie have no memory of those hours she was missing, but she also suffers from hysterical blindness. She finds herself in therapy yet again with the trial looming before her. Her best friend, Lydia, has stood beside her throughout, offering Tessie support and guidance. She's the only one who treats Tessie the way she always has, which is a relief given how everyone is so careful around her. Even in her traumatized state, Tessie is every inch a teenager: questioning authority, not quite trusting the adults around her, and needing to have some semblance of control over what is happening to her.

Tessie doesn't have much to offer in the way of who kidnapped and tried to kill her. She does not know if it is the man arrested and being prosecuted is the one who did it. She can only testify to what she remembers.

Fast forward to present day Tessa who is a single mother with a teenage daughter of her own. She has long doubted that the right person was convicted of the crime, and, with his execution fast approaching, she feels she must do what she can to save his life. Her doubts are heightened when she finds Black-Eyed Susans newly planted outside her bedroom window, Black-Eyed Susans being the type of flower that had covered the grave she had been found in at 16. It wasn't just that though. There had been little things over the years that make Tessa doubt the killer has been caught--and make her fear that he is still out there--taunting her.

Working with the appellate team to help save an innocent man from death,Tessa provides what help she can as the team attempts to identify the other victims whose bones were found in the grave. DNA analysis is much more advanced now than it was in 1995 when the trial had taken place. And the hope is new evidence will come to light.

This is an intensely suspenseful novel that I found extremely difficult to put down. I was particularly interested in the science of the investigation, especially in just how far we have come in being able to narrow down where a person comes from based on DNA and chemical markers. The author clearly did her research.

Heaberlin avoids going into graphic detail about what happened to Tessie and the other victims, and yet she does it in such a way as to leave no doubt that what they endured was horrific. I thought this was a nice touch, and says a lot for how talented a writer Heaberlin is.

Several different theories went through my mind as I read about the who and why of it, but I was never quite sure enough to want to say out loud. I admit the ending (nothing to do with the who or why of it) gave me pause in terms of just how much I enjoyed this book in the end. I loved it while I was reading it, but once finished I wondered if the envelope of believably hadn't been pushed a little too far. But I could just be overthinking it. I probably am. Ultimately, I believe Julia Heaberlin proves yet again what a gifted storyteller she is, especially when it comes to psychological suspense.
( )
  LiteraryFeline | Nov 25, 2017 |
In this extremely addicting, fast-paced thriller, Tessa Cartwright is months away from watching the man on death row executed for leaving her mistaken for dead in a field filled with black-eyed susans and the bodies of young women who did not survive his attacks. But when a patch of freshly planted black- eyed susans appears under her bedroom window, Tessa fears the wrong the man is on death row and the real monster is still loose. Alternating between the young Tessa struggling after the attack and through the trial, and the present day Tessa who is fighting a losing battle, I couldn't put this book down. I read it in a day! Every chapter leaves you frantically wondering what's going to happen next. This author has a gift for cliffhangers. I highly recommend this novel!

Sarah M. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
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Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804177996, Hardcover)

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.

Advance praise for Black-Eyed Susans
 
“A tense, slow-burning, beautifully written novel of survival and hope. Highly recommended.”—William Landay, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob
 
“The spectacularly dark and twisty story of what happened to one young Texas girl, and the ghosts who refuse to let her rest. I didn’t want it to end—but I couldn’t put it down.”—Carla Buckley, author of The Deepest Secret
 
“A twisted tale of how evil makes its mark, Black-Eyed Susans winds a net around the reader, shifting time, perspective, and events until the only sure thing is the pulsing question at the heart of this novel: What happens when a ruthless predator leaves one of his victims alive?”—Jenny Milchman, author of Cover of Snow
 
“An absorbing character study and a good choice for readers who want to really sink into a psychological thriller.”Booklist
 
“A truly compelling tale of the fragility of memory and elusive redemption.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“Gripping . . . The suspense builds as Tessie uncovers devastating secrets from the past en route to the shocking ending.”Publishers Weekly

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:00:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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