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 . . .’
For some people, trouble just finds them.
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?
I cried multiple times whilst reading We Begin At The End, I think it was a mixture of frustration, a sense of injustice and the sheer emotion Whitaker managed to get into his narrative.
It wasn’t a simple story, but a mix of crime, it’s dreadful consequences, and the many facets that make up the human psyche.
The characters will stay with me for a long time, none more so than Duchess, a young thirteen year old who had to grow up long before her time. The care and protectiveness she gave her brother was heartwarming, but also sad, her mother wrapped in her own misery of a dead sister, alcohol, drugs and the wrong choice of men.
Duchess unwillingness to give into emotion, to break down and cry brought you to tears, and her relationship with her Grandpa Hal was just on another level.
She didn’t give an inch, didn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing she cared but most of all respected and admired him. Hal, so patient, never grudging in his need to give her and her brother some sort of stability and a life.
Duchess wasn’t the only stand out character, Walk, local police chief, was haunted by long ago events and an illness that threatened his whole life. He was our overseer, our guide through the background to the story, to the many characters, all connected in some way to past and present events. It was his loyalty to his best friend Vincent King and a responsibility he felt towards Duchess and Robin that drove him on, pushed him out of his comfort zone, as he sought justice.
Whitaker took us into the heart of Little Haven, the small town they inhabited, the personalities and its events magnified, everyone sure that they knew their neighbours, better than they thought. I loved how the past could never be forgotten, pushed to the forefront of the present day, the ramifications an explosion just waiting to happen.
When it did erupt, you heart went to your mouth, your stomach churned, your only hope that Duchess and Robin would survive unscathed, that Walk would find some kind of inner peace.
Whitaker’s narrative never let us down, as he delved deeper and deeper into his characters hearts and minds, the seemingly endless threads compelling and intriguing. When you reached then end you felt like you had been in an emotional whirlwind, wrung out, shattered and wondering how you would forget Duchess, Robin and Walk, how you would be able to pick up another novel and feel and experience the same level of intensity.
We Begin At The End was superb, and am not sure i will ever quite recover.
I would like to thank Zaffre Books for a copy of We Begin At The End to read and review and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Chris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. When not writing he enjoys football, boxing, and anything else that distracts him from his wife and two young sons. Tall Oaks is his first novel.