Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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 โ€œBlack-Eyed Susan,โ€ the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave.

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 flowersโ€”as aย killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

An engaging, suspenseful story, Black-Eyed Susans follows the story of Tessa Cartwright, the sole survivor of a serial killer. We join the story as a group of lawyers attempt to free the convicted murderer from death row. They come to Tessa for help. Tessa, now an artist and single mother trying to leave her past behind her, reluctantly agrees to revisit her past.

I was captivated by this book. Such an engaging story line that weaves two timelines, Tessa in 1995 when she was found in the open grave, and present day Tessa. Suspects are everywhere and plot twists litter the narrative.

Tessa is a broken woman but a strong character. There is an immediate empathy as you follow this dark path into her past. If you enjoy a compelling mystery that is New Adult/Adult as opposed to Young Adult, you will enjoy this book. The language is accessible and the action demanding (in a good way!).

Supporting characters are strong and believable. Heaberlin has successfully amassed a wealth of research of a scientific nature and implemented it into her story in a way that is easy to understand. Her scientists are real and accessible. The reader never feels like they are talked down to.

A special mention to Tessa’s neighbour Effie who provides at times a comforting comic relief and always affection.