Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Black Eyed Susans" by Julia Heaberlin

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 whose 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!

Happy Reading! 

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