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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.
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?
Closing date: 31/03/2021
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.
It is a very long time since I read a book which deals with many complex issues yet is so readable. Full review
Emotional, descriptive, absorbing and passionate are only the beginning of how good this novel is! Full review
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?! Full review
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. Full review
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
Publication date: 06/08/2020
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Publisher: Zaffre Publishing
|Publication date:||2nd April 2020|
|Genres:||Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, Crime / Mystery, Family Drama, Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month, Star Books, Thriller / Suspense,|
|Collections:||50 Books To Transport You To Another World, Our Favourite Books of 2020,|
|Categories:||Crime & mystery, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Thriller / suspense,|
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.More About Chris Whitaker