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We Begin at the End (Paperback)
  • We Begin at the End (Paperback)
  • We Begin at the End (Paperback)
We Begin at the End (Paperback)

We Begin at the End (Paperback)

Paperback 464 Pages
Published: 06/08/2020
  • 10+ in stock

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Waterstones Says

A blistering story of murder, revenge and retribution, set under the Californian sun, We Begin at the End is a thriller of exceptional psychological flair, filled with characters who will get under your skin – and might never leave.    

Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger 2021

Shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger 2021

Shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021

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? 

Publisher: Zaffre
ISBN: 9781785769405
Number of pages: 464
Weight: 337 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 26 mm


A beautifully written mystery, packed with unforgettable characters. An intricately woven portrait of small town intrigue where old and new sins collide - Jane Harper

I LOVED it. I mean, jeez, what a story. And so intricately, delicately written, with such care and affection for all the characters. I adored all the relationships and ALL the characters without exception - I mean Duchess!! I could seriously rave about every single character that people the world of this book . . . 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

A magnificent crime novel. It deserves to win a hatful of awards. A BIG hat. Consider me a major fan - Mark Billingham

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

An accomplished and moving story of crime, punishment, love and redemption - Guardian, Books of the Month

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

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

I LOVED this book. From the riveting plot, to the beautiful writing. But mostly what kept me longing to get back to it each day were the characters, especially young Duchess. Fierce, brave, vulnerable she leaps off the page fully formed. As does Walk. How aptly named. A chief of police on his own inexorable journey. This is a book to be read and re-read and an author to be celebrated - Louise Penny

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

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 Endis 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

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

A stunning and heartbreaking book - will keep you gripped until the last moving page - Claire McGowan, #1 bestselling author of What You Did

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. Do yourself a favour and put this on your most wanted list - Fiona Cummins

Chris Whitaker is leading the pack of hungry young crime writers by a long mile. He writes like a dark angel, conjuring characters and places so memorable you'll ache when it's over. A very real, very rare talent - SARAH HILARY

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

A sensational book. Addictive, beautifully-written and immersive. So many layers. So many fascinating characters. Chris Whitaker is an immensely talented writer - Will Dean

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

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

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

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

Two damaged children - one timid and sweet, the other foul-mouthed and furious - will break readers' hearts in this well-plotted and perfectly-paced novel. If, like me, you love stories that kidnap your intended schedule because you can't not keep turning the pages, then I wholeheartedly recommend Chris Whitaker's We Begin at the End - Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much is True

I've just finished We Begin at the End and I have all the feelings for this beautiful book . . . A brilliantly plotted crime novel with such tender characterisation - N. J. Mackay

I loved We Begin at the End. Complicated, loveable characters, gripping plot, sparse, beautiful writing, and such great senses of place. I also cried. A lot - Abigail Dean, author of Girl A

In conversation with Chris Whitaker

In conversation with Chris Whitaker

Manchester - Deansgate
Thursday 18th July 18:30

Deansgate welcomes award winning author Chris Whitaker to celebrate his latest thriller, All the Colours of the Dark.


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“An interesting read”

I have a little and rather embarrassing confession to make- yes yet another one. Although I have all of Chris' other books on my ever increasing 'to be read' mountain, I haven't actually read... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 53


I am something of a Chris Whitaker novice having read none of his other books yet. I was so impressed with this outstanding literary mystery! The premise of the book beckoned to me and I knew that I had to read this... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 47

“Slow start but wonderful read”

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I wasn’t really sure it would be my kind of story but after a slow start it reeled me in and I found it hard to put down. Sissy Radley is killed by Vincent King... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 44

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