Posted in Books I have read

Black-Eyed Susans – Julia Heaberlin

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller

For those of you like me that have tired slightly of the serial killer plot line which appears in so much contemporary crime fiction, here is a book which has a completely different take on the subject.

Tessa is a survivor of said serial killer found broken but not dead alongside the body of a girl and some bones we first meet her in the present day deciding whether she is going to help with the case to reverse the death sentence against the man convicted of the crime, Terrell Darcy Goodwin. Tessa can’t remember what happened to her despite the help of an eminent doctor at the time of the original trial back in 1995, her memory remains elusive. The sessions between Tessa and her doctor in these days are reproduced in Tessa’s own words which not only gives the reader a real sense of growth in Tessa but also the background to her story.

Tessa wasn’t a popular outgoing girl, she is a committed runner with one best friend, Lydia. Lydia tries her hardest to bring normality back to Tessa’s life in the aftermath of her discovery, keeping her interested in the facts she acquires in much the way that a magpie collects trinkets. She is there lightening the load, helping Tessa when she becomes blind and generally being her one and only confidante. However, we soon realise that something happened between the two girls at around the time of the court case and Lydia is no longer part of Tessa’s life.  With plenty of other mysteries littering the pages, not least, who is planting the black-eyed susans in places where Tessa will find them, if the killer is in jail? It is this one that played on my mind the most.

The psychology of all the characters is the key to this book; dwelling on the specifics of the crime is kept to an absolute minimum leaving the way clear to examine the relationships detailed as well as the big issue of the death penalty.  Fear not though, this is not a book that preaches rather one that presents a story which feels authentic. Would Terrell be sitting in his death cell if her were a rich white man? From what little I know of justice in the US maybe, or maybe not? How humane is it to have someone contemplating their demise for so many years broken only by endless appeals? How many lives are taken in the name of justice which depend on circumstantial evidence alone? So as I say plenty to think about which made this book feel a step above light-entertainment.

All that cerebral activity doesn’t stop this from being a cracking good read though! The plot is complex and acutely paced. The tension rises, steeply in the second-half as we have the countdown to the execution day. Will the defence lawyers be able to provide the evidence, and are they right to do so? I began to piece together the events but only shortly before they had been fully spelt out on the page giving me the feeling that I had been given the clues – there is nothing worse than the reveal coming out of the blue!

This is a tense book with interesting and life-like characters, a book that looks at the complexity of justice and one that really deserves the moniker psychological thriller!

I received a copy of this book through Amazon Vine in return for this honest review. Black-Eyed Susans was published on 13 August 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (August 19)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan and I’m still engrossed in the public’s reaction to Rachel Jenner, mother to missing Benedict, who is judged on her performance on the televised appeal for his return.

Burnt Paper Sky

See yesterday’s post for the synopsis and a taster from this book

I have recently finished Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin – my review will follow shortly

Black-Eyed Susans

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. Amazon

Next I am planning on reading is The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly, I have loved her previous two books so I’m really looking forward to seeing what this one has in store.

The Mistake I Made

We all think we know who we are.
What we’re capable of.

Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate.
Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away.
But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge.
Roz has a choice to make. NetGalley

What are you reading this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here