Black eyed susan’s by Julia Heaberlin – a review

As a seasoned Theakstons Old Peculier festival goer me and the sister are well practised in the art of keeping an eye out for any good books that might be floating around. This was one I’d had my eye on previously due to the excellent cover with the mini sunflowers (yes I know they are really black eyed susan’s) so when this appeared in a goodie bag in one of the final sessions I was quite excited.

Black-Eyed Susan’s is told from the viewpoint of Tessa. At the age of 16 she was taken by a serial killer, and was the only surviving one of his victims. She was found in a grave with three bodies with black eyed susans flowering around. When we meet Tessa she is grown up with a daughter of her own, but can’t put the past behind her, especially as she finds some black eyed susans planted in her back garden. Interspersed with this we hear from Tessa aged 16 having just been found and her subsequent struggle to put her life back together with the help of her best friend Lydia.

This book was really good although I found it took a little while to get into. The switching between Tessa/Tessie viewpoints was quite clever and once you got into the swing of it was not disjointed as can sometimes be the case. This was definitely a character driven novel rather than a procedural, but I really enjoyed that. It was an interesting way to tell a crime story, and the victim was the main focus of the story rather than the killer. Equally the fact that grown up Tessa had a young daughter gave a different dimension as we are given a preview of what it must be like for victims of crime trying to leave the past behind them and live a normal life with the knowledge of what might happen to someone.

My only slight criticism is that the ending was a bit of a let down. To me it felt a little bit like the book just fizzled out a bit and the twist at the end wasn’t particularly shocking. However this didn’t detract from the fact that the majority of the book was really good and kept you interested.

This was definitely a book that lived up to the very stylish cover and it an interesting take on the serial killer theme.

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