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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn comes an electrifying novel of stunning psychological suspense.

I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.

I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.

The lucky one.

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving "Black-Eyed Susan," the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa's testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans - a summertime bloom - just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications - that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large - Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve lost memories - and to share the drawings she produced as part of an experimental therapy shortly after her rescue.

What they don't know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.

©2015 Julia Heaberlin (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Recorded by arrangement with Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Donna
  • Newport, NC, United States
  • 08-27-15

Dark and compelling - Gillian Flynn readalike

This is the kind of suspenseful, tension building story that I'm hoping for every time I open a book labeled "Thriller." Very reminiscent of Gillian Flynn, Tessa's story was dark without ever getting into the details of what actually took place that caused her to end up in a grave with other murdered girls with no memory of how or why she was there. The tension in the story builds as Tessa tries to piece together what happened as the time ticks down for the possibly innocent man on death row who was found guilty of the crime that haunts her life. I was so eager to get this audiobook and I wasn't disappointed. The narration was fantastic, from the southern drawl of a friend, to teenager whine, to the whimsical neighbor, the narrator breathed life into each character.

The writing itself was vivid and descriptive which helped give each character nuance and depth that was enhanced by the exceptional narration. It was one of those books that kept me up all night reading because I couldn't sleep until I had the answers I needed.

The reason I didn't give this a full 5 stars is because of several things - First, the way the story weaves back and forth between past and present was sometimes jarring and confusing and at times made it a bit hard to follow. This often made it difficult for me to simply lose myself in the narration and in the story the way I would have liked. Then, while I enjoyed the diversions and false trails that kept me guessing, when all was finally revealed, it struck me as a little too far-fetched to seem plausible AND there were too many things left unanswered.

While I wanted more from the story, it was because the story and the characters were so compelling. I wanted to understand more about the intriguing friendship between Tessa and Lydia, I wanted to hear more about Tessa's strange and quirky grandfather and his creepy house, I wanted to learn more about Terrell and his experience on death row, I wanted to learn more about the other "Susan" victims. But even though I still wanted more - I still loved the story. It's actually because I so thoroughly enjoyed it that I wanted more from it!

I need to find more audiobooks like this so I'm going to check out more of this author's work.

75 of 78 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastically interesting... as long as you know

I am thankful to the reviewer who mentioned that the book did a lot of time hopping back and forth.,and since I went into it knowing that it was one of the BEST suspense novels I have listened to in a very long time! Everything from the story line, to the interesting details, to the narration was fantastic

74 of 78 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book! Not difficult to follow at all!!

I kept hemming and hawing about getting this book because of other reviewers mentioning it was difficult to follow with the back and forth in time. Yes, it does go back and forth but is very easy to follow. The story is unique and the performance outstanding! So, take a leap of faith, if you like suspense, you won't be disappointed!

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 04-07-18

Author presents a great case on how to...

...stretch an excellent 4 hour novella into a lousy 10 hour novel. She does it by adding non-relevant details in short chapters that switch between the current time and 1994 - 1995. The bottom line is that she builds boredom rather than suspense.

Of course, by their very nature book reviews are personal perceptions and opinions. I admit that I finished this novel only to find out if the innocent man on death row was ultimately cleared and freed.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Too weird for me....

Strange story, unevenly written. Maybe once an hour I considered cutting my losses and quitting, but then some little thing would catch my attention, and I'd soldier on for awhile more. Maybe I just didn't like the mixed genre -- it can't quite decide if it's a straight-out novel, a coming of age story, a crime chronicle or a legal thriller with death penalty pretensions. It's funny that the reviews call it "suspense". I suppose any kind of a book can be called "suspense" -- if we readers weren't waiting for something to happen, wondering what it would be, would we keep reading any of them?

Anyway, not for me. I'll steer clear of this author in the future. Good narrator, though. Did a good job with lots of different voices, accents.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Tour de force of modern psychological thrillers!

This is one of thest written and read mysteries on Audible. It is truly the perfect mystery. Great characters, a gripping storyline and just the right amount of twists.

Whitney Dykhouse is magnificent as a narrator.

I loved evry minute of this book!

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

So well-written but falls apart at the end

Any additional comments?

Julia Heaberlin is talented -- no question there. She has created a genuinely nuanced, conflicted, fully 3-D protagonist. She also knows how to write; on a sentence-to-sentence level, this is lovely work. Such a shame that the plot & characterization, along with any trace of verisimilitude, completely falls apart (ie. goes all "movie of the week") at the very end. Still worth a listen & I look forward to her next work where, I hope, she'll have worked out all the kinks.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not in the right mood

I mostly enjoyed this story, although I don’t think it was right for my mood. I just didn’t have the patience to let the book lead me along.

It was told in two time lines: One was Young Tessie’ POV just before the trial, the other was Today’s Tessa just before the execution. The story of what happened - is the killer guilty, whatever happened to Lydia etc, is slowly revealed between the two narratives but instead of being pulled in by the mystery and all the suspense, it just got on my nerves. JUST TELL ME ALREADY!

As a consequence of my impatience, I didn’t get properly sucked into the book and so by the time it got to the twist-ending, I just rolled my eyes as opposed to letting my jaw drop.

Too bad for me, I think I may have missed out on the best part of the ride.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Couldn't stop listening!

If you're a fan of Gillian Flynn, Kimberly Mccreight, or similar authors with that same ability to pull you in in and weave a story from slowly revealed bits and pieces, you might enjoy this book.

I was hesitant to get this book. In fact, it has been sitting in my wish list for a long time. I finally spent the credit when I had very few options left and was looking for a worthwhile mystery. Once I I started listening I was totally hooked..

Some other reviewers have mentioned that they found it jarring how the book moves back-and-forth in time. I did not find it difficult at all and had no problem following the story.

All that being said, this is not a perfect book. There are some areas that could've been better much developed and the ending did seem a bit rushed.

However, it was still a great listen and I enjoyed it. I definitely think it was worth my credit.

The narration was very well done.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great!!!

This is a great book to listen to, but the writing is clearly meant to be read and not listened to. The sentences wind along beautifully and you realize, suddenly, that you got so lost in the beauty of metaphor that you don't even know what started it all.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful