Walk, Vincent, and Star were always comfortable on the margins of the small California town where they grew up. Their lives eventually took different paths, but the childhood bond remained unbroken even when Walk was faced with proving Vincent could not have committed the murder that left their friend dead and her two children motherless. This is an absorbing, compulsively readable story, part mystery and part social drama, set along a once rural part of the Pacific coast that is becoming a tourist mecca, changing local lives and fortunes. The characters are all vividly drawn and the author skillfully invests in them recognizable human virtues and failings that frequently challenge traditional notions of what comprises our literary heroes and villains. — Alden Graves
It has everything you want in a literary crime thriller. Perplexing questions and big reveals. Great dialogue and page-burning plot development. Strong characters to pull for with all your heart, even as they do bad things. The strongest, most maddening, most desperately in need of a break, is the champion of the story, Duchess Day Radley, a thirteen year old outlaw from a family afflicted by tragedy. A triumphant breakout novel from a gifted writer. — Stan Hynds
After doing time for decades, a taciturn killer returns home to a California town. Times have changed, but apparently he hasn't: more bad things occur. A headstrong teenage girl is in the middle of the maelstrom, while a laid-back cop finds the will to investigate troubling events, and even more troubling aspects of his own life. — Mike Hare
“We Begin at the End is dramatic storytelling at its best, full of layers of intrigue and complex personalities set around the murder of the book’s most vulnerable character. The stoical, 13-year-old Duchess Day Radley takes center stage, and her heartbreaking life unleashes a hero within: self-proclaimed outlaw, bold and courageous, though to her peril not always wise beyond her years. Chris Whitaker has created a character for the ages and an extraordinary reading experience. By turns amusing, frightening, and exhilarating.”
— Robin Sung, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
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.
A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company