Winner of the Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel from the Crime Writers’ Association (UK)
Winner for Best International Crime Fiction from Australian Crime Writers Association
An Instant New York Times Bestseller
“A vibrant, engrossing, unputdownable thriller that packs a serious emotional punch. One of those rare books that surprise you along the way and then linger in your mind long after you have finished it.”
—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds
Right. Wrong. Life is lived somewhere in between.
Duchess Day Radley is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Rules are for other people. She is the fierce protector of her five-year-old brother, Robin, and the parent to her mother, Star, a single mom incapable of taking care of herself, let alone her two kids.
Walk has never left the coastal California town where he and Star grew up. He may have become the chief of police, but he’s still trying to heal the old wound of having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. And he's in overdrive protecting Duchess and her brother.
Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released. And Duchess and Walk must face the trouble that comes with his return. We Begin at the End is an extraordinary novel about two kinds of families—the ones we are born into and the ones we create.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Life isn’t fair. Chris Whitaker’s intimate novel makes that common bit of folk wisdom feel absolutely poetic. The story itself is beautifully simple: A rebellious 13-year-old girl named Duchess and a guilt-ridden small-town police chief form an unexpected bond over a 30-year-old crime. Both of these unforgettable characters want nothing more than to protect the people they love from further pain. Whitaker sensitively captures the experiences of struggling individuals for whom happiness can be as fleeting as a sunset. We were particularly taken by the way Duchess deals with all the emotional weight on her shoulders by imagining herself as a Wild West outlaw. Whitaker’s young heroine reminded us of iconic fictional figures like Jo March and Scout Finch. And yes, We Begin at the End is that good.
Set largely in 2005, this superb thriller from Whitaker (Tall Oaks) examines the repercussions of a fatal accident decades earlier on the residents of Cape Haven, a tourist town on the California coast. At 15, Vincent King was sent to a men's prison for hitting and killing seven-year-old Sissy Radley while joyriding. Now, 30 years later, Vincent is being released. His childhood friend, Walker\n Cape Haven's police chief hopes that Vincent, and the town, can finally begin healing. But soon after Vincent's return, Star Radley a single mother and Sissy's older sister is found murdered in her home. With Vincent as the prime suspect, Chief Walker and Duchess, Star's 13-year-old daughter and self-proclaimed outlaw, each launch their respective quests for the truth. Powered by extraordinarily deep character development and an impressively intricate plot, this novel is simultaneously a murder mystery, a love story, and a heartbreaking tragedy. The existential agony is palpable throughout, but so, too, is the hope at the end. Whitaker has upped his game with this emotionally charged page-turner.
Best book I’ve read in a long time. So sad it’s over
The best book read this year!
I will long remember this book!
This is possibly the beat book I’ve read in 10 or more years. Well paced and captivating, heartbreaking and soothing. Duchess Day Radley is a fierce little outlaw who will steal your heart.