Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
I basically read this on Sunday and really really enjoyed it. It's one of those novels that I tend to sink into, rushing to turn the pages to find out the resolution and with a character I really got behind.
Tess is one of the "Black Eyed Susans" - victims of a serial killer and the sole survivor. Told in two timelines, back when she was going through therapy having been rescued from a mass grave still breathing, and in present time where she has a teenager of her own, we read both about her doubts now that the right killer is in jail and start to learn where those doubts came from..
There were several things about Black Eyed Susans that really appealed to me - firstly the two different Tessa's - whilst the character voice is the same there are underlying differences and qualities that show how she has grown, from that place into this. Her relationship with her therapists both past and present, with her daughter now and her rather scatty neighbour, the new friendships she is forming with others involved in the "death row" case - all really compelling and beautifully done.
Then there was a dark, creepy aspect to the novel - I will never look at those flowers in the same way again - and an underlying sense of tension that was palpable. The legal aspects of it were engaging - I learned more about the politics of death row, the struggles of those lawyers who try to prevent executions, this was a thread of the tale that I found fascinating and gave the story a real edge for me.
The best thing though for me was Tess and Lydia - Lydia, her best friend, the one who stands by her and up for her in the days and months after the attack, who is determined to bring her back to a semblence of real life, that was the bit that really kept me right in the tale. In present time they have lost touch,having fallen out after the original court case, the reasons behind this and that whole element of the story was the addictive part as far as I was concerned. Lydia, a really compelling character who I wanted to know a lot more about.
I did get a sense of the ending before it was there in black and white, but not until fairly late on. Once again the setting is well described, I remember loving this about previous novels from Julia Heaberlin and the same quality is here in this one.
Atmospheric and often quite tense, great story and great characters meant that "Black Eyed Susans" was a huge Sunday hit for me - definitely recommended.