We Begin at the End
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We Begin at the End : A Guardian and Express Best Thriller of the Year

4.26 (10,518 ratings by Goodreads)
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A GUARDIAN BEST THRILLER OF THE YEAR
An EXPRESS BEST THRILLER OF THE YEAR
An i BEST THRILLER OF THE YEAR
A MIRROR BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A WATERSTONES THRILLER OF THE MONTH

READ THE BOOK EVERYONE IS CALLING A MASTERPIECE!

'A beautifully written mystery, packed with unforgettable characters' JANE HARPER

'Contender for thriller of the year' SUNDAY EXPRESS

'An accomplished and moving story of crime, punishment, love and redemption' GUARDIAN

For fans of Jane Harper's The Dry comes a powerful novel about 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.

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?


WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT WE BEGIN AT THE END:


'Magnificent . . . an instant classic, a West Coast Where the Crawdads Sing . . . a special, vital novel. I'm grateful to have read it' A J FINN

'Surely destined to conquer the world' RUTH JONES

'A magnificent crime novel. It deserves to win a hatful of awards. A BIG hat. Consider me a major fan' MARK BILLINGHAM

'So beautifully written' LYNDA LA PLANTE

'Incredible writing, characters so brilliantly drawn they jump off the page. Outstanding' BA PARIS

'I LOVED this book . . . This is a book to be read and re-read and an author to be celebrated' LOUISE PENNY

'A stunning and heartbreaking book - will keep you gripped until the last moving page' CLAIRE MCGOWAN

'An exceptionally beautiful and accomplished crime novel' ALI LAND

'One of the best books I've ever read' FIONA CUMMINS

'An absolute masterclass in crime writing and story-telling' JO SPAIN

'One of the year's best crime reads' VASEEM KHAN

'One of my favourite books of all time' M. W. CRAVEN, winner of the CWA's Gold Dagger Award

'Breathtakingly beautiful. Another stunning story from the genius of Chris Whitaker' COMPULSIVE READERS

'A spellbinding masterclass in storytelling . . . one of the best books I have ever had the joy to read' ALEX J BOOKS BLOG

'A masterpiece . . . a contender for my top book of 2020' FOR WINTER NIGHTS BLOG

'I was totally seduced by this absolute masterpiece . . . took my breath away' SUIDI'S BOOK REVIEWS

'This book is bound to become a classic . . . Reader, Chris Whitaker's book made me cry . . . such is the power of this writing' LIVE AND DEADLY BLOG

'Utterly brilliant . . . This isn't just crime fiction, this is a masterclass' MELANIE READS BLOG

'A masterpiece of storytelling with clever twists and an ending to knock you sideways' CANDIS MAGAZINE

'This heart-rending story . . . is among the most powerful and moving I have read in years' DAILY MAIL

'Cements Whitaker's status as one of the most talented authors writing today' HEAT MAGAZINE

'Masterly novel' SUNDAY EXPRESS

'A dark yet painfully human tale that is impossible to forget' CRIME MONTHLY

'Beautifully written and deeply moving' SUNDAY TIMES CRIME CLUB

'A gorgeous, crystalline novel' JEANINE CUMMINS, author of AMERICAN DIRT

'Heartbreaking and profound, this is my thriller of the year' MIRROR
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Product details

  • Hardback | 464 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 40mm | 663g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1785769626
  • 9781785769627
  • 16,883

Review quote

A beautifully written mystery, packed with unforgettable characters. An intricately woven portrait of small town intrigue where old and new sins collide * Jane Harper * An epic coming-of-age crime drama which deserves to become a classic . . . Whitaker carves out a tale reminiscent of a Coen brothers' film . . . Beautifully written and paced throughout, We Begin at the End is profound and heartbreaking . . . This masterpiece of a novel proves that Whitaker has a rare talent deserving of wider recognition. I will be amazed if I read a better novel this year * Jon Coates, Daily Express * 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 * This heart-rending story . . . is among the most powerful and moving I have read in years . . . Written with the panache of James Lee Burke, it's so gripping that I read it twice - with tears in my eyes * Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail * Let's begin at the end. After you've turned the final page of Chris Whitaker's magnificent new novel, you'll struggle - I struggled, certainly - to describe the experience . . . it's an instant classic, a West Coast Where the Crawdads Sing; its prose shimmers like a mirage; in intensity and lyricism, it recalls the very best of Tana French and Dennis Lehane; for pace and whiplash plot twists, it rivals C. J. Box and Peter May . . . This is a murder mystery, yes, and an extraordinarily gripping one - but like the murder mysteries of Louise Penny, Jane Harper, and Kate Atkinson, it's humanity that most enriches Whitaker's novel (and Whitaker's readers) . . . think of We Begin at the End as a novel at the same time distinctly American and profoundly universal: a book that explores both this particular community, these particular lives, even as it maps emotional territory rarely charted in contemporary fiction. What a special, vital novel. I'm grateful to have read it * A. J. Finn * Beautifully written, We Begin at the End really reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird. And the spirit of Scout is very much alive in Duchess. A crime novel, or maybe a novel about a crime, and yet so much more * Sarah Pinborough * Brutal, yet beautiful, this painfully human tale cements Whitaker's status as one of the most talented authors writing today * HEAT Magazine * 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 * An accomplished and moving story of crime, punishment, love and redemption * Guardian, Books of the Month * I hate this man. I mean, I really hate him because this is the sort of book that makes you feel like you're not trying hard enough as an author. Just amazing * C J Tudor * 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 * An intense, evocative, and quite brilliant crime novel that stays with you long after you've finished the last page * Simon Kernick * 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 * A masterpiece of storytelling with clever twists and an ending to knock you sideways * Candis Magazine * This is an epic drama and a profound masterpiece. I'll be amazed if I read a better novel this year * Mirror * So beautifully written you'll want to savour every word; a book that stays with you long after the final page * Victoria Selman * A sprawling epic of betrayal, faith and misguided loyalty * Irish Times * A magnificent crime novel. It deserves to win a hatful of awards. A BIG hat. Consider me a major fan * Mark Billingham *
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About Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks and All The Wicked Girls. Both books were published to widespread critical acclaim, with Tall Oaks going on to win the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award. Chris lives in Hertfordshire with his family. Follow Chris on Twitter @WhittyAuthor
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Rating details

10,518 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 49% (5,203)
4 35% (3,646)
3 11% (1,126)
2 3% (324)
1 2% (219)
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