“We Begin at the End” was the first Chris Whitaker books I’ve read. When this book got going, I could hardly put it down. You have a feeling of impending dread as each rising action builds upon itself. The tension becomes so great at the book’s climax that you are relieved when it finally ends.
At first this book was hard to get into. I had a hard time figuring out who was who and the setting and situations were kind of uninspiring. Set in a small town in California, populated by people who all know each other, went to school together, and have fallen into roles based on expectations set on them. Star is a single mother of two, Duchess and Robin. She sings at a nightclub late into the night while her kids are at home by themselves. The kind of men who follow her home after her shifts are questionable and full of impure motives. Walk is the town sheriff. He is middle-aged and settled in to the regular rhythms of small town police work. After thirty years in prison, his childhood best friend, Vincent King is finally getting released from the state penitentiary. He went in a boy and got out a broken man.
Some of the highlights of this book is Whitaker’s character development and the mid-chapter stream of consciousness shifting stories between different character in real-time. I also appreciated the subtle humor sprinkled throughout the novel, which helped cut some of the choking tension that grips the reader.
As you read this crime-mystery novel, you get swept up in the lifetime of history these residents have endured and then when something runs afoul, you are struggling to piece together what really happen as Walk tries to hunt down every lead. The portrait of the oldest daughter Duchess who has essentially be the only responsible “parent” to her younger brother Robin is so vivid and compelling and heartbreakingly sad at the same time brought me to tears at different points in the book.
If you can get past the drag at the novel’s outset, there is a lot of thrilling action, emotional draw and rich character development to savor in Chris Whitaker’s latest novel, “We Begin at the End.”