We Begin at the End

by Chris Whitaker

Crime and Mystery Books of the Month Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Family Drama Star Books Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading Expert Review of We Begin at the End

Higher than highly recommended, this is a crime novel that delivers attitude, aching emotion, and beauty. Don’t pass on by, read this book!

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.

Liz Robinson

We Begin at the End Synopsis

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?

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781785769405
Publication date: 6th August 2020
Author: Chris Whitaker
Publisher: Zaffre
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 464 pages
Collections: 50+ Emotionally Turbulent yet Beautiful Novels, 7 Novels Starring an Unforgettable Young Protagonist.,
Primary Genre Crime and Mystery
Other Genres:
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We Begin at the End Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

It is a very long time since I read a book which deals with many complex issues yet is so readable.

We Begin at the End is a brilliant book. It has everything you need as a reader - a thought-provoking story that needs to be told, characters with depth who go beyond the superficial, and very fine writing with an insight that stimulates. But it is also a very readable book that is hard to put down. There are several main characters. Vincent King is a convicted killer due to be released from prison, Star is his ex-girlfriend with two children, thirteen-year-old Duchess and her younger brother Robyn. The story is told mainly through the eyes of both Duchess and Walk. Walk is the small-town police chief who knits the threads together of a very old crime with what is happening now. Duchess, exceptional and extraordinary tries to make things work for her troubled family, yet she is not a saint. No review can do justice to the book. Please read it.

maxine broadbent

Emotional, descriptive, absorbing and passionate are only the beginning of how good this novel is!

As I began to read this novel I realised how powerful and emotional the storyline was. Based around Duchess Day Radley, a stubborn and defiant outlaw of thirteen and her brother Robin, who Duchess protects fiercely. Add to that Chief Walker a small-town police officer who is looking out for his community, in particular the two children. As the story progresses it is increasingly obvious how much is 'covered up' in this town, with murder, blackmail and other acts of crime amongst others. The writing is emotive, passionate and descriptive, and is going to be a best seller I'm sure. The chapters are not too long and keep you wanting more, I read this book in two days as I couldn't put it down. According to other readers, this is Christopher Walkers best book so far, I will be putting that to the test and searching out his previous two to compare!

Glenda WORTH

Wow, this book is brilliant. The raw emotion and power with which it is written will have you reeling. If you haven’t yet discovered Chris Whitaker, why not?!

Wow, just wow!
I am not familiar with Chris’ other work, but I shall now be making sure they are in my tbr pile.
The passion, emotion, empathy and general brilliance with which he writes are incredible.
This is, in a roundabout way, a story about a love so strong it found a way to continue despite the odds.
It’s a story about the innocence of youth and how one tragic accident can turn so many lives in different directions.
The main character, Walk, is a middle-aged Chief of Police in a small town, where the biggest issue he has is a Mustang with a rumbling exhaust. He is set in his ways, he likes continuity, he doesn’t like change or progress.
Walk's best friend, Vincent, is in jail for murder. He gets released, but is he ready for the world he left behind?
And then there is Duchess and Robin. Two kids, brought into an uncertain life who have to grow up too quickly and end up getting passed from pillar to post. I wanted to just envelope them and love them and make it all ok.
This novel had me laughing and crying. I got so involved in it I really didn’t want to leave and, to be honest, if I didn’t have to sleep and sort my children out, I would have completed it in a day.
It is brilliantly written. No extra padding where it is not needed. Fantastic description, so much so that you can see, smell and FEEL every scene, every situation. The way he describes the characters means that they become your friends, your family.
I am placing this book high on my shelves, in a place of reverence, where I can see it and know it is there, ready to be read again when I am strong enough to repeat that journey.
If you haven’t discovered Chris Whitaker yet, read this to understand the brilliance of this man.

Amanda O’Dwyer

Quite simply stunning. I can't stop thinking of this book, it's touched me. A cliche I know, but really. One of the best books I've ever read.

We Begin at the End is an exceptional novel. Honestly, magnificent. I'm sad it's ended, now living in hope this becomes a movie adaption.
Set in a small town in California, Vincent King is released from prison after serving 30 years. Now back in his hometown, he's not welcomed back by the majority. Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend and sister of the girl he killed is one of those.
Her Daughter, who is one of so many fantastic characters in this story, sets about a chain of events that effectively has tragic consequences for everyone. I really don't want to give any more that away. The author has so beautifully created characters that you will love no matter their flaws. The story is immersive.

A powerful story about love and friendship and the lengths we will go to keep family safe. A story that needs to be the Top 10 of every chart. An author we need to hear more from, and characters so believable and wholesome, I want to end right back at the beginning.
Incredible, devastating, even laugh out loud in places, I sobbed, I went through it all.

Katie Macaulay

A powerful story that will pull at your heartstrings, well worth a read!

Though I found the storyline a bit slow at first, it was well worth sticking with it. The book is beautifully written, at times almost poetic.

The narrative explores family struggles and the devastating effects of the past and of people's prejudices. The book begins with the release of convicted killer Vincent King, which sets other events and conflicts in motion. We come to realize that the ideal California town where the story is set, is not so ideal after all. The characters are rich and complex, and the reader easily gets drawn into their world.

The author does a tremendous job of capturing the atmosphere of small-town America. This is a story that is layered and thought-provoking and will stick with me for some time. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Maya Ehrmann

Chris Whitaker Press Reviews

I LOVED it . . . so intricately, delicately written, with such care and affection for all the characters. I adored all the relationships and ALL the characters without exception . . . his descriptions are so vivid, so visual, so beautifully drawn.We Begin at the End is surely destined to conquer the world. This intensely captivating story and its uniquely intriguing characters holds you in its jaws till the very last word. Astonishingly good - Ruth Jones

The character of Duchess Day Radley is so beautifully written, she will remain with you for a long time - Lynda La Plante

I love Duchess Day Radley so much I want to adopt her. She is every thirteen-year-old girl at risk, an outlaw both pure of heart and ill of intent, a fierce and melancholy girl, so memorable she will make camp in your brain and never leave. In We Begin at the End, Chris Whitaker has written a gorgeous, crystalline novel, a cautionary tale about the long shadows cast by our past selves, and one defiant girl with the bravery to hope for something better. I love this beautiful book - Jeanine Cummins, author of American Dirt

Chris Whitaker's third novel, We Begin at the End, is the kind of breakout book that publishers dream about. Rich with character and story, conflict and tension, humor, tragedy and raw, unadulterated guts, this one has it all. Throw in the most compelling young protagonist I've read in at least a decade, and you have a deep and meaningful story that is an absolute delight from first page to last. Nicely done, Mr. Whitaker! - John Hart

Stunning, intoxicating, heart-breaking - without a doubt one of my favourite books of the year. A compelling story, beautifully-drawn characters and writing that leaps off the page: We Begin at the End is in a class of its own - T M Logan

A stunning and heartbreaking book - will keep you gripped until the last moving page - Claire McGowan, #1 bestselling author of What You Did

An exceptionally beautiful and accomplished crime novel. I fell head over heels into its big black heart and will carry the characters with me for a long time to come yet. Duchess and Thomas Noble forever - Ali Land

Chris Whitaker takes crime writing to new levels in this evocative and lyrical novel, which is not only beautifully written but cleverly plotted, with a climax you'll never guess - Mark Edwards

If ever there is a book that deserves all the prizes, this is it. So layered and nuanced, and brimming with characters so full of depth they breathe on the page. So heartbreakingly evocative of small town life and the secrets buried under the weight of old friendships and tangled loyalties. Stunning writing, both poetic and compelling. A damn near perfect crime novel - Fiona Cummins

We Begin at the End is the most beautifully written book I have read this year . . . with characters that will tug at your heartstrings, an incredible sense of place and a cleverly plotted mystery, Chris Whitaker is proving himself to be one of the most talented writers around - Lisa Hall

What a novel! Such a remarkable achievement. So wonderful in so many ways, with writing that is Booker Prize good. I kept having to stop and go back and re-read bits because I wanted to experience them again. I enjoyed it so much and the characters now have a place in my heart, I'm sad not to be able to spend any more time with them (Duchess especially). Wow. There is no f**king justice if this book is not a smash hit - Deborah O'Connor

We Begin At The End is as perfect a novel as you'll read all year. Devastating and hopeful in equal measure, with pitch-perfect characters you'll root for at each jaw-dropping turn - Duchess, in particular, deserves a fast-track pass to the literary hall of fame. A sophisticated, utterly absorbing read - Caz Frear

A triumph. I couldn't read it fast enough, while still appreciating the absolute beauty and depth to it. I don't know where to begin - the total satisfaction of the plot, the absorbing story, the cast of unbelievably incredible characters, the sheer taste of America on the page. So, I'll begin at the end, and the fact I cried straight through those last few chapters. Duchess, Robin, they killed me. It's an absolute masterclass in crime writing and story-telling - Jo Spain

Wow . . . One of the most spellbinding crime novels I've read in a long time - and, best of all, it felt like nothing I'd read before. Masterful - Catherine Ryan Howard

Chris Whitaker excels in muscular small town American Noir. In We Begin at the End, we see that fascination with the gnarly American heartland reach new heights. Whitaker displays his mastery over style; his unique flair and eye for telling detail is comparable to a form of literary method acting. The story unwinds to a peak of tension and ends with a series of revelations that hit like a flurry of punches to the gut. It is a fabulous read. A sparse, muscular novel with a unique sense of style. A cross between crime and literary fiction in the Cormac McCarthy tradition. A sense of tragedy infuses the story and this, more than anything, makes it one of the year's best crime reads - Vaseem Khan

Breathtaking, heart-wrenching, heart-warming and laugh-out-loud funny, We Begin At The End is simply astonishing. Easily the best book I've read this year - M.W. Craven, CWA Gold Dagger winner

An absolute belter of a book. Superb, heart-breaking, astounding and gripping. Chris Whitaker has totally nailed it - Gytha Lodge

Sometimes a book finds its way to you when you need it most, and teaches you a lesson you didn't even know needed teaching. We Begin at the End is one of those books, and it truly is a masterpiece - Isabelle Broom

A sensational book. Addictive, beautifully-written and immersive. So many layers. So many fascinating characters. Chris Whitaker is an immensely talented writer - Will Dean

Emotionally wrung out after reading We Begin at the End. Chris Whitaker is one of the few authors who can genuinely make me cry. Rock on Duchess and Thomas Noble . . . this may be my book of the year - C J Carver

Astoundingly beautiful. No other writer can pull you in quite so well as Chris Whitaker. The writing is pure and sharp, the characters perfectly drawn, the story unforgettable - Rebecca Tinnelly

We Begin At The End is stunning - thrilling, moving, beautifully written - Paul Burston

Gasp-enduring drama and laugh-out-loud humour, Duchess Day Radley is now my favourite character in fiction by far - Tom Wood

Hands down, one of the best books I've ever read. In my life. There's a bit at the end which is so overwhelmingly sad I can barely breathe just thinking about it. An absolutely astonishing novel and the writing is breathtaking - Rebecca Thornton

A heart-rending, gut-punching, nail-biting masterpiece. I'm sure I could hear echoes of Harper Lee coming through in the skilfully crafted prose. It's surely rare that a British author should pen an American classic, but I think Chris has - Marnie Riches

Chris Whitaker has written a rare gem of a novel - by turns thrilling, moving and heartbreaking, it takes the reader on a gut-wrenching journey from hope to despair and back again. Chris's previous novels demonstrated his gift for creating complex, fragile and all-too-believable characters, but somehow he has topped himself here, introducing us to a cast of heroes and villains so intimately-drawn, they could be your family and friends. The kind of book that makes you fall in love with reading again - Rod Reynolds

Crime may feature at the heart of We Begin at the End but it is the heart itself that dominates this stunning crime novel. Beautiful, evocative & heartbreaking from beginning to end - Off-the-Shelf blog

Beautiful writing, characters that live on in your memory long after you've turned the last page. Excellent - Mason Cross

A sublimely beautiful book that lingers long in the memory, from a writer with a rare gift - Kevin Wignall

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781785769405
Publication date: 06/08/2020
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781785769627
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781785769399
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Format: Paperback

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About Chris Whitaker

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.

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