We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker | Blog Tour Book Review |#WeBeginAtTheEnd

Published by Zaffre
Available in Ebook, Audiobook, Hardback (26 March 2020) | Paperback (15 October 2020)
464 pages
Source: Copy received from publisher for review via Netgalley


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?


Vincent King is released from prison after 30 years for the killing of a young girl, Sissy Radley.  His childhood friend Walker was the one that found her body. Walker, now known as Chief Walker, the local cop in Cape Haven is the only one pleased to see him return to his family home. It is clear that Star Radley, King’s ex-girlfriend and Sissy’s sister, would rather he go somewhere else to live as would many other people.

Star is a troubled soul. Drink and drugs have taken their toll and she isn’t always the mother she should be; it falls to her 13 year daughter Duchess to look after her brother, 6 year old Robin, as well as clearing up her mother’s vomit after her binges.  Duchess Day Radley is an old head on young shoulders. She calls herself an outlaw and is brave, mouthy and often aggressive but underneath you can see the vulnerability and immaturity of a young teenager. Often my heart broke for her but she wasn’t always an easy person to like. Duchess has known more heartache than anyone of her young years should.  Chief Walker does his bit to try and look out for the two kids but she doesn’t really trust him. She doesn’t trust anyone, that way she doesn’t get hurt.

This story has a very sedate pace as it reveals the main characters, the minor players and the changing landscape between California and Montana. There is a murder, but the story is about so much more, particularly where some people are concerned the past can never be forgotten. 

The book is beautifully written, these broken characters and the way they deal with their lives, both past and present, will break your heart.  There were a few characters that stood out for me. The quietness of Walker, his loyalty to Vincent, dealing with his illness in a stoic way, doing the wrong thing but for the right reason. Duchess with her love and tenderness for her brother Robin making him her priority above all else. Hal, who made such a difference when he was allowed to.

This book has had so many rave reviews and I can understand why. It is such a powerful and emotional story but in a quiet way and certainly deserves all its success. I hadn’t yet read any of Chris Whitaker’s previous books but I shall be reading more.

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the tour and to the publisher for the Netgalley copy to review.


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 wife and two young sons. Follow Chris on Twitter @WhittyAuthor

Author Links:
Twitter | Goodreads

Book Purchase Links:
Waterstones |Amazon UK | Hive


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