In Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, the accused killer in the Black-Eyed Susan case is going to be executed soon. Is the real killer planting Black-Eyed Susans outside of Tessa Cartwright’s window to mess with her mind or is it a strange coincidence? Whatever the case may be, Tessa wants to know if Terrell Goodwin is the actual killer or not before it is too late to save him.
16-year old Tessa Cartwright was kidnapped and left with skeletal remains of three other females under a field of Black-Eyed Susans. Goodwin was arrested and convicted of the crime. Tessa had no memory of the incident but refused to do hypnosis.
A few months before the execution, she begins to work with Goodwin’s lawyer and a new therapist. Tessa wants to know the truth and to get justice for the other girls. We also see flashbacks of her thoughts prior to the original trial. In 1995, Tessa was temporarily blind. So she went to therapy to deal with the trauma and to prepare for the trial.
Tessa’s best friend, Lydia, is her main support system until the end of the trial. Lydia is a little bit morbid. She knows everything about everything spooky – books, movies and true crime. If there is something weird about anything, Lydia will find out all of the details. She reminds me of a toxic version of myself. The reader knows that Lydia and Tessa had a falling out after the trial but we don’t know why until the end.
While waiting on the DNA evidence from the other Black-Eyed Susans, Tessa visits all of the places that the flowers have appeared in weird ways to her. It might not mean anything but it could jog her memory. She also visits Goodwin in prison to make peace.
Tessa knows that there is more to the story of the Black-Eyed Susans but she doesn’t know until all of the plot twists are revealed to the reader.
If you like stories about serial killers, true crime or mysteries then you will love Black-Eyed Susans. If you are an actual serial killer, then you might feel conflicted about this book.
I read this book for the “Final Girl Trope” prompt for the Spooktober Readathon. Honestly, I was lucky enough to find it at a library book sale.