Published by: Kensington Books (July 26 2016) (hardback)
"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. . .
I devoured Debbie Howells' debut, 2015's The Bones of You, so when I had the opportunity to read a review copy of The Beauty of the End, I jumped at the chance.
Upon meeting Noah, I was a little wary as I wasn't sure whether he would turn out to be trustworthy or not. He comes across as quite needy and clearly still has very strong feelings for April. Strong, verging on the obsessive. He finds out impossible to resist trying prove her innocence, the pull of her is just too strong, even lying in a coma.
The chapters tell the story from different perspectives: Noah's; Ella's; and the young Noah, who tells of his love of April. I found this confusing in a couple of places and had to double check whose point of view it was, but that's likely nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with my compromised attention span!
I enjoyed the way the story built, layer upon layer, with twists along the way, but I did manage to work out a couple of things from the clues and words left unsaid. Having said that, the final twist was something I'd not forseen - it was quite a shock!
Ella's story, told via sessions with her therapist, added more depth and structure, and of course I was trying to guess how she fit in.
Once again, Debbie Howells' masterful storytelling and great attention to detail make for a deeply compelling psychological that I highly recommend.
Special thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book, in return for my honest opinion.