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Chris Whitaker's debut novel, Tall Oaks, was published in 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre. It was a Guardian crime book of the month as well as featuring in Crime Time's top 100 books of 2016 and BuzzFeed's incredible summer reads. Chris's second novel, All The Wicked Girls, will be published in autumn 2017. Chris lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.
Achingly painful and stunningly beautiful, be prepared to fall long and hard for We Begin at the End. This is a crime novel that will stay with me, and is now firmly ensconced on my list of favourite books. Duchess, full of awareness of the difficulties of life at just 13 years old, throws her family’s life into chaos when Vincent King is released from prison after 30 years. The first few sentences caught and held me, the prologue sets a shiver inducing scene. By the time the first chapter began I was already in thrall to Chris Whitaker’s writing. I felt, really felt the pain, the love, the joy, the desolation, each feeling clamouring to have its say. Duchess has stamped her way into my mind and will remain there, occasionally elbowing my attention into remembering. I adore her, she feels vibrantly alive to me. The ending felt truly perfect, and not that I would deface a book of course, but imagine ‘Highly Recommended’ stamped all over We Begin at the End. We have chosen this as a Book of the Month, Liz Pick of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book too, because it is so completely gorgeous. I’m just sad that I don’t have the opportunity to experience it again for the very first time.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2017. Shortlisted for the Last Laugh Award at the CrimeFest Awards 2017. A first British crime novel, albeit set in a small American community, that appeared a few months ago and only recently came to my attention, Tall Oaks takes a sometimes hackneyed theme and turns it into a thing of wonder. A small child has gone missing, apparently kidnapped and we follow how a group of varied inhabitants of Tall Oaks are affected by the disappearance in an atmosphere reminiscent of both Twin Peaks and Fargo, as the tale that unfolds sensitively blends pathos and even tragedy with an affectionate sense of the absurd and the comic. The grieving mother falls into a downward spiral of despair and degradation, the errant father remains suspiciously absent and uninvolved, the policemen investigating the case obstinately fights against the odds and his own, terrible attraction to one of the suspects, a group of local teenagers, including a splendidly comic figure who aims to become the town's master criminal and dresses ridiculously to cultivate his image, his Syrian refugee acolyte and sidekick, the slightly retarded mother's boy who works at the photo shop, a forlorn waitress and a host of other striking characters take the stage in turn as the story develops and races to a both abominably poignant and also comic conclusion that ties all the threads together most satisfactorily. A gem of a story. Stunning. ~ Maxim Jakubowski Maxim Jakubowski's April 2017 Book of the Month.
'Surely destined to conquer the world . . . Astonishingly good' RUTH JONES 'So beautifully written . . . will remain with you for a long time' LYNDA LA PLANTE 'Contender for thriller of the year' JON COATES, SUNDAY EXPRESS With the staggering intensity of James Lee Burke and the absorbing narrative of Jane Harper's The Dry, We Begin at the End is a powerful novel about absolute love and the lengths we will go to keep our family safe. This is a story about good and evil and how life is lived somewhere in between. 'YOU CAN'T SAVE SOMEONE THAT DOESN'T WANT TO BE SAVED . . .' Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer. Now, he's been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed. Duchess Radley, Star's thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin - and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town. Murder, revenge, retribution. How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself? 'This one has it all . . . an absolute delight from first page to last' JOHN HART 'A damn near perfect crime novel' FIONA CUMMINS 'An absolute masterclass in crime writing and story-telling' JO SPAIN 'Writing that is Booker Prize good' DEBORAH O'CONNOR 'One of the year's best crime reads' VASEEM KHAN
For fans of Lisa Jewell, Holly Seddon and Local Girl Missing, All the Wicked Girls is a gripping thriller with a huge heart from an exceptional talent. Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she's a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama - especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes. Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes. And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . . 'A very real, very rare talent' SARAH HILARY 'Wonderful' M. R. CAREY 'Amazing' LISA HALL 'Gripping and heartbreaking' DEBORAH O'CONNOR 'Phenomenal' JO SPAIN 'Stunning' MICHELLE DAVIS 'Remarkable' MIKE THOMAS