I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Chris Whitaker, We Begin at the End today on my blog as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.
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?
Ever since I read Chris Whitaker’s debut novel, Tall Oaks I have always been keeping an eye out to see when his next book will be released. I described All the Wicked Girls, his second novel as a triumph, but his third book, We Begin at the End is a masterpiece. The writing really makes it a book that you will want to savour. I could have flown through it, and I really wanted to, but I wanted to take a much more leisurely pace with it as I was enjoying it so much. It is literary crime at its very best.
Once again Chris takes us to the heartlands of America and introduces us to a cast of new characters, real, every-day normal people, but they are also people who leap off the page. For me what really stood out in Chris’s debut novel was the humour and its characters. I still haven’t forgotten about Manny who I think impresses everyone when they read Chris’s debut. I think creating and developing characters, who you really care about, is Chris’s strongest writing skill.
Chris’s last two novels have taken on a much darker tone, but again, there are so many strong and compelling characters, who you will be rooting for. I felt real sympathy for Duchess and her family; the primary characters Chris’s latest novel focuses on. They are characters who you will become so attached to and this is what makes the ending all the more heartbreaking and powerful. I think what will make people feel the most towards Duchess, is how strong her need to protect her family is. This is particularly as they have already gone through dark times, which has very nearly torn them apart.
Once again Chris develops a small-town setting which feels like it could be a real place. There’s a strong sense of coming together in this town against one individual, a past resident, Vincent King, who has just returned to the area after thirty years in prison. So it’s no doubt that when another horrific crime takes place, Vincent is everyone’s number one suspect. It seems that the residents of the town have all near enough decided that he is guilty without taking much note of the evidence, and this pushes a lot of people to the brink. This time the police aren’t keen to go lightly on him, they are pushing for the death penalty and they feel sure they’ll get it granted. This is a town where emotions are running very high, and I kept thinking, as I was reading, that at any moment it was going to break and this is what made the novel so tense as well.
But above all, it is a book that is just beautifully written and it deserves to be on everyone’s reading list, you really won’t regret it. It is a book that will keep you thinking about the characters within the pages long after you have turned the final page. We Begin at the End is a cleverly woven piece of fiction and with such a strong central and supporting cast of characters. It’s brilliant!
Publication date: 26th March 2020
Print length: 464 pages
We Begin at the End is available to buy:
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