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We Begin at the End

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,438 ratings  ·  718 reviews
There are two kinds of families: the ones we are born into and the ones we create.

Walk has never left the coastal California town where he 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. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being rele
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 2nd 2021 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published March 26th 2020)
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Ann Be patient. I also won a copy and it took awhile. Mail is very slow in USA right now.

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Average rating 4.32  · 
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The award winning Chris Whitaker's latest novel is a stellar, intense and beautifully written novel, a study of small town America, set in Cape Haven, California and Copper Falls, Montana. This character driven book gives us the unforgettable, fierce and mesmerising 13 year old Duchess Day Radley, a girl that life has dealt the lousiest of hands, living hand to mouth, surviving by her wits, denied a childhood, all responsibilities and consequences, no friends, doing her best to look after her tr ...more
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker (Author), George Newbern (Narrator)

Thirteen year old Duchess Day Radley is the protector of her five year old brother, Robin. Their drug/drink addicted mother, Star, has never been able to take care of herself and never been able to take care of them. Duchess forgoes food so her brother can eat, she spends her school lunch period watching her brother, she arranges for him to sit with a teacher for three hours, in the afternoon, until she gets out of school a
Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill
Hang on to your Stetsons and hold on to your heart...this book will break it for sure...Wow! This book was absolutely brilliant. I had heard the rumors and I can confirm they are in fact true! You will want to read this book.

Why would a thirteen year old girl go around calling herself an outlaw? Self preservation that is why. Duchess has seen more heartache than most people do in a age thirteen....she is one tough cookie and she will do whatever it is takes to survive and protect he
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This book tore me apart, made me laugh and made me cry, often !! I had been waiting for that first 5* book of 2021 that would blow me away, THIS IS DEFINITELY THAT BOOK!!

This novel has an amazingly intricate plot, perfectly paced, turns that you don’t expect, with characters that will be with me for a very long time.

We begin at the scene of a tragedy, a young girl is dead, and this small California coastal town will never be the same again.

Fast forward 30 years, Vincent King is getting out of pr
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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4.5/5 stars

Melancholic, compelling, and so beautifully written.

This was a book I never thought I’d read, and I certainly didn’t expect I would love this one. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker is a novel highly recommended by my co-blogger, Emma; she has been pushing this book to everyone in Novel Notions since the start of this year. I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, and my knowledge of what elements in a stor
Susanne  Strong
Review posted to blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

My Cup Runneth Over and the Tears Spilled.

While reading this book, I was overcome with intense emotion and extraordinary heartbreak.

This is character-driven literary crime fiction about family, friendship, loss, and mystery that includes all of my favorite elements.
Dysfunction; grief, heartache; humanity; humor; love; loyalty, pain, regret, and unrelenting tragedy.

It’s a novel that is dripping with heart and that heart reside
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is my first experience reading a book by Chris Whitaker. It’s a beautifully written book, but an incredibly sad one. Duchess is a thirteen year old who has had to grow up well before she should have. She cares for her little brother Robin, as her mother, Star, is usually too drunk to do so. But Whitaker manages to capture her innocence, too, her belief that she’s an outlaw just like in the Wild West.
Walker is a forty something chief of police who’s dealing with his own health problems whil
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"We Begin at the End" by Chris Whitaker is a novel by an up-and-coming author that's not to be missed. Call it a thriller, a mystery, a crime drama, or a coming-of-age tale, it's undeniably a slow burn story with more than its fair share of surprises.

The plot is intricate, with many connected characters essentially dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy that took place 30 years prior. At its heart is a vividly-drawn young girl named Duchess, a self-proclaimed "outlaw," who does whatever is nec
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
How do we close old wounds without opening new ones?

Next to impossible I'd say.

We Begin at the End takes us on a long journey over nearly thirty years. Hard years. Unforgiving years.

But Sheriff Walker, known as Walk, looks down at his shaking hands and feels the draw and the pull of his vertigo. He knows that the diagnosis hasn't been good and the little white pills are no longer serving him as well as they once did. Walk maintains his same daily schedule in Cape Haven no matter what. It's who h
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Whitaker is one of those authors whose every release makes me wonder just how much better he can get. He’s only on book 3 and I’m wondering if this time he might have created something unmatchable. Honestly, I’ve been sitting on this review for ages because I can’t seem to write anything that’s not offensively superlative. We Begin at the End is a triumph. Spectacularly plotted, gut-wrenchingly genuine, and memorable in that way that sits heavy on your heart.

One of the most challenging asp
Elyse  Walters
read by George Newburn

Duchess Day Radley, “self-described outlaw”, is thirteen years old.... ( going on thirty)...
Resilient, fierce, and ‘strong-like-bull’....she becomes ‘acting-mom’ to her six year old brother, Robin and caretaker to her often drunk mother, Star. The kids father was out of the picture.

Thirty years ago, in the small fictional coastal town of Cape Heaven, Ca., Police Chief, Walk, put his childhood best friend, Vincent King, behind bars...( due to a car incident t
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: Kelly (and the Book Boar)

"I saw you that time in town. You're the angel with the golden hair."
"If you knew anything at all, you'd know I'm about as far from an angel as you can get. Now shut the fuck up and face forward."

Meet 13 year old Duchess Day Radley. She's an outlaw. She lives to protect her younger brother from this hateful world. Their world is not an easy one. Their aunt was killed a long time ago and the guy that killed her is about to get out of prison. Their mom can't take care of herself let alone two
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
Wow.. that was something else. Review to come when I have collected my thoughts

So it has been a few days now and I really can't get this book out of my mind. This was my first book by Chris Whitaker and I am definitely going to look for more of his books after reading this one.

We Begin At the End is a story of love, of friendship and loyalty, greed, good and evil and the lengths that people will go to keep their loved ones safe. These characters are broken, they have not had easy lives and have
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We Begin At The End was one of the best books I have read this year. It was the first book by Chris Whitaker that I have read but by no means will it be my last. I was so impressed with his eloquent story telling and beautiful way he had with words that I will definitely seek out other books rhat he has written. We Begin at the End was most definitely a character driven book. The characters in this book were complex and very well developed. Some were more likable than others. I listened to the a ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Whitaker's We Begin At The End

Remarkable, Page-turner, engaging and simply the best crime fiction novel that I have ever read. Hands down!

We Begin At The End is a blend of crime fiction, suspense, thriller and contemporary, with perfect characterization, perfect mood, perfect atmosphere. Written brilliantly that'll grab you from the very beginning and leave you completely empty with an ineffable blend of emotions. Chris Whitaker had written a great crime fiction novel full of emoti
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:


This was one of the best books I read last year. Go get it.

I’m not a child. I am an outlaw.

A couple of years back I picked up an early copy of a book that no one was really talking about and that little book (She Rides Shotgun) ended up being the best thing I read all year. I picked up this little book that no one is really talking about yet because my friend Shelley sent me a DM saying she thought it would be ri
Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
QUICK-ISH TAKE: I sometimes struggle writing book reviews. I’m a much better reader than I am a writer, and when I read books that I love, I find it that much more difficult to properly express my excitement and adoration. Which is probably why it’s taken me a month to post my review for WE BEGIN AT THE END, an exceptional small town murder mystery exploring love, loss and grief.⁣

As a teenager, Walker turned in his best friend Vincent for the accidental hit-and-run death of their friend Star’s
Peter Boyle
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
The superior thriller is set in the small California town of Cape Haven. 30 years ago, 15-year-old Vincent King was convicted for killing a child while joyriding. Sissy Radley's body was found by Vincent's best friend Walk. In the present day, Walk is the town's police chief and Sissy's beautiful older sister Star is mixed up in trouble. Struggling with substance abuse, she is neglectful of daughter Duchess and son Robin, but Walk does his best to check in on them. Duchess has a fiery streak and ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
Well, I said that I loved this one so much that when it came out in hardcover I would be buying it with its hefty price tag and all.......

But even better than that is winning a hard copy on a GR giveaway!!



The minister said we begin at the end. It would have made for easier years if I thought for one second Sissy was somewhere better than a small wooden box. I try though, every Sunday I try.

This book is everything I didn't know I wanted.

This is the best of grit lit and lit fic
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Based on the first half of the book, I was all set to give it 3 stars with a somewhat scathing review questioning the hype - then the last half of the book happened, and it blew me away and answered all those questions. Wow!

The plot is centered around the murder of a young mother in a small town in Montana, but it really is much more than a murder mystery. There is no doubt that Whitaker is a passionate, eloquent writer, and this book showcases that beautifully; but despite that, in the first ha
Natalie M
This is going straight to my 2020 Top Ten!

I felt the essence and style of Harper Lee and George Steinbeck in Whitaker’s writing; of which there could not be a happy ending. Started by a tragic accident, so many lives change and righting a wrong is not always possible.

This is also the first book I have finished and immediately started again ...I had to reread the beginning which was more devastating and revealing the second time.

A character-driven compelling novel of so much misfortune and how
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I noticed that the jacket cover calls We Begin at the End a true crime novel. But oh, my goodness, it is so much more than that. It's a wonderfully crafted crime tale with twists and turns all the way through that left me with my mouth gaping at several points. The characters are so real and well-developed that I KNEW them. Really knew them. I will miss them.

Not only an excellent and intelligent true crime story, We Begin at the End is a story of the resilience of the human spirit in the face o
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
‘A million tragedies began that night...’

Whitaker has captured a rawness in his writing that I’ve not come across in a long time. It’s heavy and just when you think your heart can’t break anymore there is light through the cracks.

Duchess and Walk were characters that were so real to me that I longed to reach through the pages and embrace them. There were no wasted words... every word had a purpose. The ending is one of the best I’ve read... every thread was woven into the fabric of this story.

Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2021 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Elle by: Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)
Shelves: coming-soon, 2021
When your friends who never agree on ANYTHING all love the same book, that either means it’s something incredible or a sign of the impending apocalypse. Ughhhhhhh I guess I will have to read it 🙄
ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing … sink or swim like that. Most people just tread water, and that’s enough. Because when you’re sinking, you’re pulling us down with you.

I know this book isn't out until March BUT the synopsis made me want to read it right away. I found the book thoroughly engrossing and devoured it in a day of suspenseful, terrifying reading. Chris Whitaker skillfully captures the gamut of the characters' emotions as they struggle through events for which no one could be
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing

When a book can make you laugh out loud but also bring tears to your eyes, there's a really good chance that it's a great book. We Begin at the End did just that for me and was a phenomenal read!

Chris Whitaker is knock your socks off talented. We Begin at the End is the third book that I've read by him and I have yet to be disappointed in any way. This story is so remarkable. The plot is engaging and character driven. There are some twists and turns that I never saw comi
Kathryn in FL

If you are looking for flat, perfect characters, don't read this one. This reads as if it were told by someone close to those impacted by the story itself. A group of high school friends are deeply impacted by an accident, now thirty years later, their lives are still bound together and interwoven leaving trouble for the next generation. Here is where we begin...

Duchess Radley is an outlaw. So she proclaims at age 13. She has recently
This book has been getting so much early buzz lately, and rightfully so! I wouldn’t necessarily call this book a thriller or mystery, but more of a character driven type of story. Full disclosure, I usually hate character driven novels. This one, however, has broke the mold for my resentment towards this genre. ⁣

This story focuses on a group of people—the ambitious and strong willed Duchess Radley (who may as well be my favorite character in a book ever), her younger brother Robin, their troubl
TS Chan
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to TS by: Emma
4.5 stars.

Literary fiction has not featured much in my reading repertoire but if there are more of such gems out there, please sign me up! 

We Begin At the End was definitely more literary fiction than crime fiction, even though the story was centred around a murder and the people so irrevocably affected by it.  While the narrative started with a pretty slow burn, I was captivated with the authenticity of the characters, all whom are so memorable, even if not entirely all likeable.  The tone of
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Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of TALL OAKS, ALL THE WICKED GIRLS, and WE BEGIN AT THE END.

He lives in the UK with his wife and three children.

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