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 a novel about two kinds of families--the ones we are born into and the ones we create.
Life, much like storytelling, tends to be linear: We’re born (characters); we live (plots); we conclude. But what fun could a mischievous author have by reversing that narrative? Rising star Chris Whitaker explores this possibility in We Begin at the End, an addictive flip on the small-town mystery, which begins when all is supposed to be said and done, in what would traditionally be a crime story’s aftermath ... As surprises surface, British writer Whitaker combines a brisk pace, a solid California voice and perhaps a record-setting cuss count. By the book’s end, you’ll want to begin at the end again.
The bighearted We Begin at the End by the British crime writer Chris Whitaker, straddles a host of genres. Part thriller, part bildungsroman, part Dickensian tear-jerker and — most startlingly — part western, the novel centers on 13-year-old Duchess Day Radley, a self-described 'outlaw' who has been forced to grow up quickly by her troubled mother, Star ... The sibling relationship at the heart of the book is affecting ... Despite this promising foundation, a few issues in the novel’s writing hinder its ability to be truly transporting ... Whitaker has a [...] tendency to rely on writerly shortcuts when it comes to his characters ... The novel’s confusing syntax often makes the reader double back, checking for understanding. Whitaker is clearly attempting the style of writers of the American West, but in his hands the voice sounds like a parody.