- We Begin at the End.
- Chris Whitaker.
- 464 pages.
- Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Mystery.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
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 won a copy of this book through Readers First.
Thirty years ago Vincent King, then aged fifteen-years-old was convicted of killing seven-year-old Sissy Radley and now, he is finally set to be released from jail and will return home, to the small town of Cape Haven. No matter how far behind you it is, you can’t escape from or, run from the past and it will always be there a part of, haunting and shaping you. For the small-town community, the killing is a tragedy that has transcended time and that is still felt in the present. The death shattered those involved and even though the pieces have been put back together, the cracks and the scars still remain.
The two main characters in We Begin at the End and who we see the story unfold through are thirteen-year-old Duchess Day Radley and Chief Walker/Walk the Chief of Police in Cape Haven who are ably supported by a cast of believable, well-drawn, colourful, fractured and flawed characters. Duchess looks after her younger brother, five-year-old Robin and mostly, she takes on the role of mother as their actual mother Star isn’t really up to the job of motherhood as she is in a constant battle with her demons. Duchess is protective of Robin and Whitaker has crafted such a brilliant relationship between the two siblings with the barbed wire of Duchess being blunted with Robin and her softer side, her vulnerability coming through towards him. Duchess classes herself as an ‘outlaw’. She is determined, tenacious, tough, resilient and far older than her years as she had to grow up very young. She is spirited, stitched together and there is an intensity to her, she is a storm and a fire burns inside her. Walk is the opposite he is calm, measured, set in his ways and staid. Walk is a good person, honest, Vincent and Walk were childhood friends, the best of friends, not born of the same blood but brothers and for thirty years he has carried the weight of the past around with him.
Whitaker has a poetic way with words and We Begin at the End is a beautifully written and masterful display of storytelling. There are deep sadness, drama, intrigue and moments of humour that are laugh-out-loud funny with plentiful sentences and passages throughout that are packed with emotion, pain and meaning. Cape Haven and Montana are the settings where the story takes place and both are vivid and evocative with some picturesque descriptions of the locations on display by Whitaker.
We Begin at the End is a dark and evocative book that features a mournful, poignant and emotionally charged story of broken people living broken lives. The story told shows the struggle to survive and that life is full of hardship and pain. It is a story of actions and their consequences, of love and loss, of sadness and sorrow, of bad choices and second chances and of remorse and regrets, revenge and redemption. There are also motes of hope, of compassion and of light penetrating the darkness included. As you reach the end Whitaker leaves you with a warm feeling that even fractured souls can mend, that you can find what you’ve been missing, what you’ve never had, what has been lost to you and of colour returning to the lives of some of those involved in the tragic events that you have witnessed.
The story told by Whitaker is emotionally charged and character-driven. It is not fast-paced, it is a slow-cooked story that simmers, that takes its time, that doesn’t rush, that gives you ample opportunity to become acquainted with the characters and that deserves to be savoured. It is one of those layered, powerful and weighted stories that rank high on the emotional scale. It is a story that reaches out, that touches you within, that breaks you a little, that you won’t soon forget, that will linger and that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page. We Begin at the End is classed as a thriller but, saying that it is ‘just a thriller’ does the book a disservice and it is something so much more. I cannot rate it highly enough, it is genuinely moving, a remarkable work of literature and absolutely stunning.
We Begin at the End is not simply a book that you read, it is a journey, an experience and as you walk beside the characters, as you see through their eyes and feel their pain it is a story that you live, breathe and you will care. You will care about the story, about those involved and you will care so much about Duchess Day Radley who, for me, is the tattered and torn outlaw heart of We Begin at the End.
Purchase We begin at the End by Chris Whitaker.
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