Second Tuesday Book Club will meet in-person from 7 to 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, in the program room at Schimelpfenig Library, for our discussion of Chris Whitaker’s compelling mystery, We Begin at the End. We will observe careful social distancing, with face coverings recommended. Please email Cathe Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or comments. See you at Schimelpfenig Library just a few weeks!
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
“Right. Wrong. Life is lived somewhere in between.”
Duchess Day Radley is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. She is the fierce protector of her five-year-old brother, Robin, and her single mother, Star. Walk, the chief of police, is still trying to come to terms with having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released. And Duchess and Walk must face the trouble that comes with his return.
Winner of the Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel from the UK’s Crime Writers’ Association, and Winner for Best International Crime Fiction from the Australian Crime Writers Association, We Begin at the End has also been optioned for production by Disney’s 20th Television.
Kirkus Reviews comments, “A police chief who never grew up and a girl who never had a childhood try to solve the murder of someone they love in this dark and moving novel. A tiny, picturesque town on the California coast is an emotional prison for the characters of this impressive, often lyrical thriller. Someone will end up dead, and the murder mystery structures the book. But its core is Duchess, a rage-filled girl who is her brother’s tender, devoted caretaker, a beauty like her mother, and a fist-swinging fighter who introduces herself as ‘the outlaw Duchess Day Radley.’ Whitaker crafts an absorbing plot around crimes in the present and secrets long buried, springing surprises to the very end.”
The New York Times Book Review called the novel “part thriller, part bildungsroman, part Dickensian tearjerker, and–most startlingly–part Western. . . a moving and propulsive story.”
Writing for IndieNext, Robin Sung of Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts, describes We Begin at the End “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.”
Although his book is set in California, Chris Whitaker was born in London, and now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and children. He is the author of four novels, and works part-time at his local library. He has held a number of jobs through the years, but considers writing fiction to have saved his life. His website is here, and he also posts on Twitter.
Here is a 2021 interview Chris did with Carol Fitzgerald of the Book Report Network, in which he discussed books and writing, and the genesis of his award-winning novel. Take a look!
(Photo by David Calvert)