Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: The Beauty of the End

The Beauty of the End
Author: Debbie Howells
Series: Standalone
Released: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Kensington
Length: 320 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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.

For me, the summer always brings a craving for mysteries and thrillers. There’s something about these hot days that demands only the most exciting stories. Having missed The Bones of You, Debbie Howells’ praised psychological thriller, I decided to start with her newest release and work my way backwards if I happen to enjoy it. Although she’s often compared to Gillian Flynn and other famous mystery writers, Howells’ prose lacks the strength of books like Gone Girl. Despite its promising premise, The Beauty of the End is a colorless, uninspiring book that fails to grab attention or bring forth any real emotions.
The story is told from two seemingly unrelated points of view. Noah carries most of the narrative, but there are occasional interludes during which we follow a young girl named Ella. In addition, Noah’s story constantly jumps back and forth in time, from his early school days, to his days in college, to current events. Noah thoughts, and therefore his narration, are focused on one thing only – his childhood sweetheart and the only girl he’s ever loved, April. When he gets news that April is in a coma and that she’s accused of murdering her stepfather, Noah abandons the life he’s built and runs to her rescue, despite not seeing her for 16 years.

For a former lawyer and a crime writer, Noah is unbelievably clueless. His whole life he worshiped his idea of April, a girl that never really existed, while the actual person remained a mystery to him. There were so many things he should have read correctly, so many truths he should have seen. Watching him stumble about, being the very last person to know everything, was painful and not a little bit frustrating.

I imagine the story was meant to be complex and extremely suspenseful, but it lacked any real urgency. I wouldn’t call this story a thriller at all. If anything, it’s a tragedy of two people that were never meant to be. I had issues with the villain, too, seeing as he was both cartoonish and painfully obvious from the start.

The Beauty of the End is for those who enjoy dramas and tragedies, introspective stories with no HEA guaranteed.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I know what you mean about this time of year, I always crave the same thing too! Too bad this one didn't quite turn out to be as good as you were hoping it would be.

  2. Oh, that sucks. I hope the two unrelated points of view somehow intersect? Otherwise, what's the point?

  3. Sounds like it disappointed a bit. Are you going to try any of her other books?

  4. I can't stand when a character is in a certain profession or have a certain background, but they behave as if they have no clue. That's too bad, though. I've been into this genre lately too.

  5. What a disappointment. Thanks for your thoughtful review.

  6. A thriller that lacks urgency is definitely disappointing and not something I'd call a thriller either. I would also be bothered by the clueless character. That's usually something that frustrates me in books like this, though they see more rampant in YA thrillers.
    Sorry this wasn't what you were looking for, Maja!

  7. Hard for me not to have HEA, but hope it works for some who like the tragedy aspect

  8. Drama and tragedy is not really my thing

  9. Hmmm, I don't think this one would be a book for me at all... =/


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