A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells - Feature and Review

From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover's past.

"I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . ."

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose--and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April's name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.


The Beauty of the EndThe Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells is a 2016 Kensington publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This story is simply spellbinding, mesmerizing, and had me hooked right from the start.

When Noah Calaway gets a phone call from an old ‘friend’, letting him know his long lost love has been accused of murder and is in the hospital after a suicide attempt, Noah, a former attorney turned author, is conflicted in regards to taking on April’s criminal case, should she ever make it to trial.

But, with his feelings, which bordered on unhealthy obsession, for April going all the way back to his childhood, it’s a pull he simply can’t resist. This decision will dislodge so many poignant memories and pull the wool from Noah’s eyes about who April really is, and has been all along. But, is she really guilty of murder?

Before becoming a freelance reviewer, I was pretty easy to please, and could relate to the sleep deprived, so riveted by a book they couldn’t bear to put it down, and I completely understood when someone said they never wanted a book to end. Now, I’m a lot more jaded and usually have no problem switching off the lamp in the middle of a good book, and it’s become extremely rare for me to run across a book I wish were longer. But, for reasons I can’t exactly explain, this book so captured by attention I found myself wanting to slow down in order to make it last, but was unable to stop myself from reading as fast as I could.

I have to say I am thrilled to see the psychological thriller sub-genre becoming so popular again. (Although, I do wish publishers would back off of describing every one of them as the next "Gone Girl")

I’ve always loved this type of mystery because it rarely relies upon car chases or explosions, but instead pulls the reader into a web of suspense with intelligence and cleverness, that holds me stock still, from beginning to end. I love a good mind game and this book certainly gave my brain and emotions a nice workout.

The old saying about love being blind is a theme I kept coming back to while reading this book, because poor Noah was so instantly smitten with April, he couldn’t see her as anything but his goddess. But, April wasn’t the only thing Noah has turned a blind eye to over the years, as he is about to learn the hard way.

Noah tells the story from his first person perspective, giving us a little insight into his own personal demons, his slow realizations that his mind has blocked out or simply rewritten events, that are now revealing themselves to be much different than he remembers them. As Noah begins to delve into April’s life leading up to the murder she’s accused of, his long buried memories float to the surface and he begins to connect the dots he never did before.

I loved the pacing of this story, which is fast, but even, and fleshed out. The atmosphere is edgy and thick with foreboding, and suspense, filling me with dread, as Noah begins to unearth one diabolical manipulation after another, and dark, gut wrenching revelations that leave him feeling sick, repulsed, shocked, and sad, but also determined to clear April’s name and see justice done.

I don’t know if I could say I liked the characters, even Noah. But, I did feel empathy for him at times, while at other times, I marveled at his gullibility and his ability to so completely deceive himself, as well as his blind trust in April, Will and their extended group of friends. All the characters here, are flawed, some more than others, and I’m not sure how I felt about the extreme measures taken to expose some heinous crimes, which left me feeling angry, sad, a little confused by the actions, or in some cases, lack of response, from some people. The villain here is one of the most sinister I’ve encountered in a long while, which left me wondering if whatever judgment is passed, would ever be enough.

Still, at the end of the day, I was left with a sense of peace knowing that an ugly truth was exposed, and those whose lives were affected most, are now free from the damaged and dangerous atmosphere that has haunted them for far too long.






Debbie self-published three commercial women's fiction novels before writing The Bones of You, her first psychological thriller.
She now writes full time from her home, in a small West Sussex village where she lives with her family.

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