We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker is a slow burn mystery that looks at how one mistake can define a future of hurt. This mystery balances being being heart breaking, yet so so full of a beating heart that drives the narrative. You feel every death and every reveal will change your perception. This is a mystery that is character driven, I feel like if there was no mystery I still would have been interested in the characters. The characters and circumstances will give you chills and it gave me an ugly happy cry. There’s a lot of Darkness in this story but a light at the end of the tunnel that burns bright with hope. We Begin at the End reminded me of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in the characterization of Duchess who could easily be a modernized version of Scout. Walker or Walk reminds me of the James Mangold written and directed movie Cop Land as small time cop has to break and bend rules he has always followed and lived by. The plot moves a little slow at times but the fantastically broken characters moved me past the slow parts. The novel lays out all it’s twists and turns at the end, that will hit and hurt the reader with each one. The story is filled with great little moments but there are some big moments that will stay with you. This book was not even on my radar but thanks to Goodreads Choice Awards nomination in Mystery and Thrillers and seeing friend’s and followers vote for it, I had to check it out. We Begin at the End did sadly not make it into the final round.
The Plot Summary: Vincent King is being released after 30 years in prison, he was 15 and tried as an adult for a drunk driving incident that ended up killing his girlfriend at the times younger sister. Walk was his best friend that turned him in, is now the towns chief of police. Vincent inherited a piece of property from his long dead parents that is now prime real estate and blocking a condo development. Star, Vincent’s girlfriend, when he went to prison is a struggling drug addict with 2 kids Duchess a rebellious 12 year old and Robin an innocent 4 year old. The Family is threatened by Darke the local drug dealer and the man behind the condo deal, he is a violent man and threatens the family when Vincent who has been watching the house intervenes. Star does thank him just wants Vincent out of her life. He bonds a little with Duchess behind her mom’s back, where he gives her a gun. Duchess Want Dare to pay and burns down his business a strip joint, she steals the security tape. Darke knows it’s her he needs the tape or the insurance won’t pay and he threatens the family. The next night someone from the family is dead when Walk investigates he finds Vincent with blood on his hands and a body. Walk has to make a decision does he cover for his friend or play it by the book?
What I Liked: The character of Duchess was fantastic and refreshing. You liked her, you sometimes were like mellow out, please change course, but through all these different emotions you understood her and why she acted this way. I loved the Duchess’s relationships with people and they way she was so guarded but slowly showed the way she cared. The character of Walk who always follows the rule to the law by the letter is having his doubts and starting to bend or break the law to see outcomes he know he is right about. I also lie the personal demons he was dealing with and how they infected his choices. Their a twist at the end that is so beautiful so self sacrificing, and then the final twist comes and it makes it even more heartbreaking. I can’t remember the last time I teared up at a mystery or if it has ever happened but man this one has one of those moments at the end. The atmosphere is dreary and constant until you see light.
What I Disliked: The plot of the land deal was hard to follow. I felt it lost me at times, I kind of understood it at the end but it took a while and could have been explained a lot better. I’m glad it was only a small part of the larger story or this star rating would not be so high.
Recommendations: This book is great it is slightly depressing, but has a lot of heart. I fully recommend this book but just be prepared for what kind of novel it is. I rated We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker 5 out of 5 stars.