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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Review: Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I was already several chapters into Black Eyed Susans when my visit to London loomed. Seven hours on a train usually heralds the dusting down of my kindle- it’s nice and small, light, and I don’t have to commit to what I fancy reading in advance. Not this time! It didn’t matter what a chunky-monkey my copy of Black Eyed Susans was- it was coming with me. I was completely hooked.

I am fairly new to reading thrillers on a regular basis- having only dabbled in the occasional blast of James Patterson in the past. But blimey, this one is good. There are several things that really appealed to me about the story. Firstly, it doesn’t luxuriate in the grisly elements of the crime. Julia Heaberlin builds so much chilling tension into her writing, that it creates terror enough.

I loved the dual perspective of the storytelling. The young, 17 year old Tessa who has just survived the attack is raw, closed off, deliciously teenaged- and a nicely unreliable narrator. The adult Tessa initially convinces you that she’s far more balanced and reliable – but as the date for the execution of her imprisoned attacker comes nearer, you begin to question everything about her.

The chapters alternate between the young Tessa, undergoing counselling and overcoming her ordeal, and the adult Tessa, still trying to make sense of the missing parts of her memory- whilst trying to keep her own teenaged daughter safe. This device keeps the plot moving forward and means that even the slower scenes have you gripped.

Black Eyed Susans is a clever, chilling serial-killer thriller that will also appeal to readers of domestic ‘grip-lit’. And if that’s not enough to recommend it- my train journey was the fastest seven hours of my life- and as I approached my home station, I found myself wishing for a delay so that I could finish off the last few pages, undisturbed!

The Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a 'Black-Eyed Susan' by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars - or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa's bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.
Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter's safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it's too late?

Grab your copy of Black Eyed Susans here:


  1. This one has been in my digital TBR pile for a while now. I really need to find time to read it... sounds so good! Great review, by the way. I enjoyed reading it. :)

    1. Thanks Susie! It was sat on mine for a while too- but really enjoyed it. Can't wait for her next one next spring! X