Monday, August 8, 2016

"Black-Eyed Susans" by Julia Heaberlin

Tessa Cartwright is the only survivor of a serial killer who buried her in a makeshift grave, covered in black-eyed susans, with one dead girl, and the bones of two others. This happened when she was sixteen, and she participated in a trial that saw Terrell Darcy Goodwin put away for life.

Seventeen years later, she is now helping a team that wants to score Terrell a new trial. Part of the reason is that she has very little memory of what happened back then, and also the guilt she feels over the death of the caseworker who was working so hard on Terrell's freedom. However, there is also the small matter of the mysterious person who has been planting patches of black-eyed susans at whichever house Tessa has been staying in over the past seventeen years....

"Black-Eyed Susans" did its job in that it kept me gripped. I read the first half while I was at work, and the second half while I was at home. There was just enough being dangled before to keep me interested and captivated. It got suspenseful at times. But it all kind of got frittered away by the end.


When you call your book "Black-Eyed Susans," and have those flowers take up so much significance in your tale, and be part of the mystery that is seeking to be answered, DO NOT pass it off at the end as "well, I may never know". Are you for real??? Those flowers were the whole reason the fucking book existed in the first place! You're not going to say definitively who had been planting them? Fuck off!

Also, the way Tessa kept banging on and on and ON about her childhood friend Lydia Bell, it was kind of obvious she was going to play a part in the resolution. How could she not? I was thinking up all sorts of bizarre and exciting scenarios as to how Lydia would figure into the final explanation, but was highly underwhelmed by the lackluster revelation.

The ending just doesn't work at all. Tessa meets the adult Lydia, there's a bit of chatter - and then it's the epilogue! What the fuck? There's no climax! What is going on here? All that build-up is for nothing. Lydia insists she never planted the black-eyes susans. The first time it was the real killer, but all the other times, Tessa is just happy to figure she'll never know the truth.

Except those fucking black-eyed susans are the reason she told us this story in the first place, aren't they?

Sorry for the swearing. It royally pissed me off.

Otherwise, yeah, I did enjoy it.

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