Author(s): Julia Heaberlin
TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER * 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.
This ebook edition contains a special preview of Julia Heaberlin's Paper Ghosts.
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
"My book of the year so far . . . breathtakingly, heart-stoppingly brilliant."--Sophie Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Monogram Murders
"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
It's a terrific plot, matched by the quality of the writing and superbly paced tension The Times BOOK OF THE MONTH Black Eyed Susans is a compelling read, especially for Serial fans Cosmopolitan One of the classiest thrillers you'll read this year Charlotte Heathcote About as good an example of Grip Lit as you could read Sunday Independent Sophisticated, disturbing and with plenty of red herrings Woman and Home We can't remember the last time a thriller burrowed under out skin like this. Sparkling characters, authentic emotion, and an unpredictable plot makes this a terrific read from start to end iBook, Books of the Month 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 Black-Eyed Susans is a masterful thriller that shouldn't be missed ... and in terms of suspense, characterizations and storytelling... is outstanding. 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. Washington Post Gripping... The suspense builds as Tessie uncovers devastating secrets from the past en route to the shocking ending Publishers Weekly Terrific. Impeccable plotting Barry Forshaw A spellbinding tale, at once both completely believable and utterly suspenseful - and once you reach the novel's perfect ending, you will want to read it again David Dow, Death Row investigator and author of Things I've learnt from Dying This twisted tale is disturbing in the best way, rife with suspense and rich in eerie detail. A deeply creepy page-turner that you won't want to put down Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood With vivid, original prose that never misses its mark, Julia Heaberlin lures you into this psychologically astute and utterly riveting story of a victim left for dead by a serial killer, whose forgotten memories may hold the key to finding 'her monster.' As this dark journey into her past unfolds, you will race through the pages to discover the shocking secrets she thinks she wants to remember--only to find the truth lingering in your own mind long after you're done. A fascinating, twisted book Koethi Zan, author of Richard and Judy-selected THE NEVER LIST In Julia Heaberlin's mesmerising novel, the haunted Tessa is the only survivor of a serial killer's reign of terror. But after several decades, she finds flowers planted outside her bedroom window. Is the murderous monster she escaped from still in prison - or closing in on her? In a crowded field, Heaberlin is something special, and clearly an author to whom close attention must be paid Barry Forshaw The best thriller I have read in a very long time. Intelligent and very intriguing - this author's writing pulled me in immediately. I think it outshines both 'Gone Girl' or 'The Girl on the Train'. Brandie is a Book Junkie! If readers looking for the next Gone Girl do pick it up, I guarantee they won't put it down. A classic page-turner. D Magazine A sophisticated take on the serial killer novel Good Housekeeping Excellent Crime Watch an intriguing tale told by a compelling but unreliable narrator who struggles to remember details of her abduction as a teenager, but is convinced the wrong man faces execution for the crime Sunday Times Crime Club An intriguing and twisty read... This is a very well written thriller with a cleverly structured plot My Reading Corner In a grave under a patch of Black-eyed Susans, in a Texas field, a serial killer buries four girls. Three die. One survives. Sixteen-year-old Tessa, after several days with the three corpses, is traumatised. Her evidence in court results in a man being sentenced to death for murder. Tessa achieves a measure of normality and becomes a single mother and an artist. Now, nearly 20 years later, Black-eyed Susans are freshly planted outside her window and she's approached by lawyers trying to stop the imminent execution of the convicted man who is still on death row, claiming his innocence. The story is narrated in alternate chapters by the Tessa of 1995, soon to be a witness at the man's trial, and today's Tessa, tormented by the thought that if the wrong man has been convicted, the real killer is free and a danger to her and her daughter. But, we learn gradually, that Tessa has been keeping secrets too. It's a terrific plot, matched by the quality of the writing and superbly paced tension. The Times BOOK OF THE MONTH It's a clever plot with perfectly paced tension and many shivers along the way The Times The book is a delicious mix of well-researched facts, creative plot twists and a likable main character ... a masterful storyteller Star Telegram As well as a brilliant premise, the writing style keeps you hooked and at times is quite unsettling ... it takes a lot of skill to be able to unnerve a reader like that, so hats off to Julia Heaberlin for writing such a gripping and atmospheric story that had me jumping every time I heard an unexpected noise. This book will draw you in and have you second guessing yourself page after page. Black Eyed Susans is probably one of the most cunningly clever and gripping thrillers I've read in a long while and I would recommend this as one of my top reads of the year so far Bookshelf Butterfly A tense, beautifully written novel of survival and hope. Highly recommended William Landay, bestselling author of Richard and Judy-selected Defending Jacob This is a deftly organised, impeccably paced psychological suspense thriller that nods to Daphne du Maurier and, like all Heaberlin's fiction, boasts purr-inducing prose Sunday Times, Culture Magainze I love this cover and I love this book, the super-creepy story of a woman who was rescued from a shallow grave as a teenager The Bookseller The assured telling of this chiller combines to create a very modern Gothic horror that will keep you up way past your bedtime Sunday Mirror There's a hint of Kathy Reichs, Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and of Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train. Despite its dark subject matter, this is a hopeful book ... the ending managed to be both surprising and satisfying. We Love This Book The denouement is unexpected, plausible and perfectly satisfying ... Black Eyed Susans is a thumping good mystery The Bookbag If you like dark and disturbing psychological thrillers then Black Eyed Susans should definitely go on your list CrimeFictionLover.com A fascinating, educated, highly absorbing read that I struggled to put down for any length of time. Any free moment was spent with my head in this book. Intense, creepy and atmospheric, Black-Eyed Susans is a intelligent character driven masterpiece excellently paced with some great plot twists which had me guessing right to the very end ... brilliant! SJ2B House of Books Heaberlin drip-feeds an intriguing story at a tantalising pace ... Heaberlin has written an intelligent, absorbing and well-researched page-turner that will delight fans of Megan Abbot and Tana French Daily Express Fascinating details about identifying remains through bone and DNA analysis are woven through equally compelling present-day narration and flashbacks to Tessa's therapy sessions and trial testimony. The pieces can't come fast enough as the story builds to a shocking and satisfying conclusion. Deliciously twisty and eerie, Heaberlin's psychological suspense novel is intricately layered and instantly compelling An August LibraryReads Pick A truly compelling tale of the fragility of memory and elusive redemption Kirkus Reviews - 9 Novels You Shouldn't Miss Before Summer's Over This book is a rarity in that the research underpinning it is evident but not obtrusive. Black Eyed Susans is a fine achievement. It drips with authenticity, empathy and dread, meditating on the Death Penalty as well as offering an empathetic study of the life of a survivor. Take note - Julia Heaberlin belongs on every suspense fan's bookshelf Nudge Books Creepy and compelling, Black-Eyed Susans is a shadowy and crooked journey to a very dark place indeed, a twisty fairytale that deceives you just when you think you've cracked it and a thriller to make you remember why you love thrillers. Don't miss it. Observer, Thriller of the Month This is the debut novel of Julia Heaberlin, and again it's excellent ... Beautifully written ... It's a great book BBC Arts Show A powerful thriller ... With a fairy-tale-like atmosphere, the creepy thriller works insidiously on the senses ... Clever, ingeniously manipulative and elegant. Maxim Jakubowski, Lovereading
Julia Heaberlin is an award-winning journalist. She has also edited numerous real-life thriller stories, including a series on the perplexing and tragic murders of girls buried in the Mexican desert and another on domestic violence. She lives with her husband and son in Texas.