British author Chris Whitaker creates a memorable sense of place in his novel We Begin at the End (10.5 hours), set in a small coastal California town populated by heartfelt characters in search of personal redemption.
Part crime drama and part coming-of-age tale, the novel centers on three characters: police chief Walk, his childhood friend Vincent and tough-talking 13-year-old Duchess. The connections between them can be traced back 30 years, when 15-year-old Vincent killed Duchess’ aunt. In the present, their tragic stories become further entwined in “a spiderweb of hurt” when Duchess’ drug-addicted mother is murdered soon after Vincent’s release from prison.
American actor George Newbern’s clear, unhurried and remarkably smooth narration proves to be the ideal match for Whitaker’s lyricism and layered plotting, evoking a deep sense of angst, tragedy and ultimately hope.