“The beauty of the end” by Debbie Howells – Book Review

Children who have lost both parents are called orphans.  There is no word for parents who have lost children…

beauty of the endFrom the publisher:

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.


My review:

Back in school, nerdy Noah Calaway fell in love with beautiful titian-haired April Moon who he terms is a ‘goddess’.  With vastly different social backgrounds, their upbringing couldn’t be more dissimilar.  At first he thought the love was futile, then he meets up with her again a few years later and he realizes it is as strong as before.  They become engaged, their happiness knows no limit.  Then she leaves him just days before their much anticipated wedding.

Noah believes that love can conquer anything, April, on the other hand, knows that love is not enough…

April Moon is keeping secrets.

Sixteen years pass, and Noah, an ex-lawyer, jaded by the system, has turned to crime writing and… the bottle.  He has become  an alcoholic semi-recluse living in an inherited cottage in Devon. Then he receives a phone call from his old school chum, Will.  Something dire has happened!  April has tried to commit suicide and she is the prime suspect in the murder of her step-father.  Now in a comatose state, April lies under police guard in hospital in Musgrove, near Portsmouth.  Noah, unable to reconcile the April he knew with these new startling facts, travels to her bedside and investigates the circumstances surrounding April’s desperate acts with an eye to defending her as her lawyer.

He meets up again with Will, now a surgeon of some renown.  Never able to completely trust his old friend, he begins to suspect that Will has an agenda he is keeping to himself.

Noah searches April’s small stone cottage and finds some documents she was working on. He takes the papers believing that these might help in her defense case.  He learns that April was a compassionate and well-loved counselor to mothers of mortally sick infants. doctor-examining-childThe more he investigates, he begins to suspect that April has been ‘set up’.   Then, in a devastating turn of events, Noah himself falls under suspicion and is arrested by the police.

Ella.  Throughout the novel there are segments written in italics that feature an emotionally disturbed teenager named Ella.  The reader meets Ella via her psychological therapy sessions.  The reader wonders: Who is Ella – and how does she connect to the story of Noah and April?

With the requisite plot twists and startling revelations of a good thriller, “The beauty of the end” makes for an enjoyable read.  The ending was very satisfying and tied up any loose ends.  I remain curious about the title and wonder at its origin.  Perhaps I’m a bit dim, but I just didn’t get how the title tied in to the novel.

A novel of first love, of lies and deep and devastating betrayal, of self-deception, and corrupt medical ethics.  This book is a fast-paced, well-rendered thriller with well-drawn characters.  It is cleverly written in that the reader is anxious to learn of Noah’s personal outcome and roots for him, while knowing that higher issues are at stake.  Highly recommended.F 4.5 star

I am one of the few who have not yet read this author’s debut novel “The bones of you“.  A situation I want to soon remedy.

I received this novel from NetGalley when Kensington Publishing granted my wish to review it.  Thanks.debbie-howells-credit-henry-wells-photography-ltd-e1469762536399

Debbie Howells is the author of The Bones of You, her debut thriller which sold internationally for six-figures in several countries. While in the past she has been a flying instructor, the owner of a flower shop, and a student of psychology, she currently writes full-time. Debbie lives in West Sussex with her family, please visit her online at DebbieHowells.com. Please visit her website at www.debbiehowells.com

Photo Credit: Henry Wells Photography Ltd


About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “The beauty of the end” by Debbie Howells – Book Review

  1. skyecaitlin says:

    This sounds compelling and very intense. I like the blend of personal tragedy combined with suspense and investigation.


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