We Begin at the End Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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....
For some people, trouble just finds them. 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 13-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?
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 29 minutes|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||02 April 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 11,046 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
294 in Psychological Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
395 in Crime Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
791 in Suspense
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This book, perhaps ironically, doesn’t begin at the end at all. Not really. It begins thirty years prior to the main story, focusing the reader on the event which is to prove to be the catalyst for all that is to come. It is a relatively unassuming opener, no quick action, no scenes to make the reader jump or unnecessarily anxious, and yet it still packs a punch, the final lines setting the tone for novel. It is a short but effective chapter which tells you all you need to know about the tone of the book, the pace, and that gives you just the hint of all you are about to experience.
This is, when all is said and done, a murder mystery. One of the key characters is killed, the murderer seemingly apparent, but the circumstances clouded by all that has gone one before. In reality, whilst the investigators truly believe they have their man, a slam dunk case with a defendant who will neither confess to the deed, nor defend himself against the charge, as a reader you know that it is not as simple as it appears, a conviction held by town Sheriff , Walk, also best friend of the key suspect, Vincent King.
But this book is so much more than just a murder investigation. It is a brilliant portrayal of life in a small American town. Of the residents who make up the community of Cape Haven and how the years have meant things staying the same for some and causing immeasurable damage to others. For a very English guy from Hertfordshire, Chris Whitaker has an amazing ability to create a truly authentic American voice, capturing the very essence of that style which put me very much in mind of authors such as John Hart. A kind of melancholic resignation about what is happening. His ability to put you in the heart of the action, to create such a sense of place, is perfect and as a reader it makes you feel you are there, alongside Walk as he tries his damnedest to get to the truth.
If you are looking for a fast action murder mystery, this is absolutely not the book for you. That is not where this particular author excels. What you can expect when you pick this book up is a novel full of such deep emotion and pain that it seeps from every page. And, as I have come to expect from Mr Whitaker, he not only captures the voice, the sense of place, perfectly, he creates characters who are authentic. From Walk, to Star Radley, a young mother so broken by her past that it has devastating consequences for her present, to the neighbours who range from the nosy parker to the former jock to the creepy and dangerous landlord – you have them all. Skin crawling to sympathetic, struggling in many different ways, both mentally and physically.
Now in every Chris Whitaker novel you get that one character who steals your heart. In We Begin At The End, that honour falls fairly and squarely at the feet of ‘The Outlaw’ Duchess Day Radley. Barely a teenager, she has more responsibility than any child should, acting as caregiver for her younger brother Robin, while also looking out for her mother, Star. Duchess has a tenacity and level of bravado that is way beyond her years, a spiky nature that is driven by circumstance. A defence mechanism, tinged with a cynicism that is sad to see in one so young. At times it is easy to forget that she is still only a child, making those moments when you remember all the more poignant. Duchess has been faced with a childhood far darker than she deserves, and with more disappointment than any child should have to go through. Her actions and reactions are understandable, gutsy and believable, able to make you smile and weep simultaneously. She is tough to a point of almost perfect isolation, but those moments when she lets someone else in, when she forgets herself and acts as any child should, are heartwarming and emotional.
Walk is the other central character in the novel. A very staid man, he prefers the status quo trying to stave off the inevitable change that is all around him, affecting him on a far more personal level than he is willing to admit. Certain of his friend’s innocence, he guides the reader between past and present, investigating a case that the state believes is closed and looking out for Star, Duchess and Robin in a way that is totally endearing and believable. You can feel the regret that emanates from him, the blame he takes for how events pan out, making his need to set things right completely understandable. He is someone that I was happy to go on the journey with, whose dedication and determination was both tragic and commendable.
This is a book about secrets and lies. About the lengths that people will go to to protect those that they love – about the ultimate sacrifices that they are willing to make for one another. About the unassailable bond between friends, family and lovers that spans decades and shapes a lifetime of hurt. Of how one single decision can change everything. Whilst I may have guessed in part how the story was going to play out, I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact I felt when the truth was finally revealed. It is an ending that is both full of sorrow and yet tinged with hope for the future, this is a very classy piece of fiction, with a stunning narrative packed with vivid description, that I am certain is going to be a huge success.
It is rare that I would say a book is flawless but Chris Whitaker has achieved this. We Begin At The End is a novel that will genuinely remain with me for a long time. Chris Whitaker’s writing is spectacular. His ability to create such incredible characters, to immerse the reader in a different world is nothing short of genius. From the opening lines I was reading with a drawl, a twang that I imagined the ‘players’ spoke with.
Cape Haven is a small town in America. A place where everyone knows everybody else’s business. Chief Walker, like the rest of the town, is awaiting the arrival of Vincent King, a man due to be released back into society after 30 years, a man that was, and still is, Chief Walker’s best friend. Vincent King had been imprisoned at the age of fifteen for the death of young Sissy Radley. While in prison, his sentence was extended for the death of another man. Walker always stood by his friend, believed in him, believed in the memories of their youth and the friendship that existed between himself, King and Star, Sissy Radley’s older sister.
Star Radley was dealt a tough deck. After her sister died, Star struggled to get by. Her life took a downward spiral and now with two children of her own, Duchess and Robin, Star is striving to stay afloat but she is troubled. Duchess sees her mother, witnesses her daily struggles and does her best to help her. Duchess is very protective of her younger brother, making sure he gets to school every day, has food to eat and is never the subject of bullying. Duchess is brave, a young girl who has experienced too much hardship, a girl who was born on the wrong side of the tracks. Walker has always done his best by Star, he looks out for her, keeps up the contact and provides for her when he can. He remembers the way the three friends were and hopes, with King released, that they can have closure and move on with their lives. But Walker has his own personal cross to bear, a secret that he is keeping from his colleagues and friends. This is causing Walker great anguish as he knows he has to face his inner demons soon but first he must be strong, be there for his friend when he collects him from the state penitentiary. But trouble looms, as unexpected events take place that throw all their lives off kilter. The reader is left breathless, bereft, unable to think beyond these pages.
We Begin At The End is not a fast-paced high-energy novel. The reader is given an insight into life in a small town and in the wider countryside of Montana. The sense of place is very strong with the heat, the smells, the people all stunningly portrayed in this outstanding novel.
Chris Whitaker writes character driven novels. He goes deep into his characters, bringing their hopes and fears, their dreams and their nightmares right into our lives. As a reader you invest in them. You feel their pain, you experience sensations that only a writer of this caliber can evoke. Duchess, Robin, Walker, Star and Vincent King are all characters that you will invest in. Their stories will break your heart as you experience unexpected emotions that will leave you wrung out.
We Begin At The End is a book you need to discover for yourself, a book that will reel you in once you start it, one that will most definitely leave you with an almighty book hangover, but one that you will gratefully embrace.
We Begin At The End is a magnificent novel, an exquisite evocative read that captivates, compels and enraptures.
All the stars and more for this one. Highly recommend!