Ever since I was young(er), I've loved suspense stories. I've loved the twisted, psychological thrill of basically anything from Criminal Minds
to reading about the Stanford Prison Experiment (which is now a movie
that I highly recommend). It's no surprise that Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Haeberlin
, a book about a lone survivor of a serial killer caught my eye.
16-year-old Tessa Cartwright is found among the remains of other women. She has very little memory of how she got to be buried alive, let alone about the circumstances leading up to this finale. Tessa Cartwright is the sole survivor of the Black-Eyed Susans, rightly named due to the array of black-eyed susans around the grave. Her testimony is what lands a man in jail and sentenced to death.
Almost 20 years later, with the death clock looming, Tessa isn’t so sure the right man is sitting in the cell. After finding the infamous flowers planted beneath her bedroom window, she has her doubts. We soon see that Tessa has a lot more secrets than she's letting on.
Julia Haeberlin takes us through the psychological journey in two different timelines. We follow the therapy and development of young Tessa, as well as the adult Tessa. The slow-building tension is beautifully done and left me falling off the edge of my seat. While some may compare this to Gillian Flynn, Haeberlin is in a league of her own – excellently executed. Once you notice things don’t quite add up, this book is hard to put down.