Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review: The Start of Everything

The Start of EverythingAuthor: Emily Winslow
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press

In this stunning psychological thriller for readers of Tana French, Kate Atkinson, and Donna Tartt, Emily Winslow has crafted a literary prism told through the eyes of her many intricately drawn characters. Masterly and mesmerizing, The Start of Everything will captivate until the very last page.

“If you don’t want to see me again, say so. But it’s not right to say nothing. It’s not right to go silent. You know what to do.”

Cambridge, England: Outside the city, the badly decomposed body of a teenage girl has washed up in the flooded fens. Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann and her partner, Morris Keene, must work quickly to identify the victim before the press takes off with the salacious story.

Across the hallowed paths and storied squares of Cambridge University, the detectives follow scant clues toward the identity of the dead girl. Eventually, their search leads them to Deeping House, an imposing country manor where, over the course of one Christmas holiday, three families, two nannies, and one young writer were snowed in together. Chloe Frohmann begins to unravel a tangled web of passions and secrets, of long-buried crimes and freshly committed horrors. But in order to reveal the truth—about misaddressed letters, a devastating affair, and a murdered teenager—she may have to betray her partner.

“Spring warmth had bloated the body to the surface, and it was caught in a sluice gate where the lock keeper found her. There isn’t enough soft tissue on the skull for us to discern a face, and the skull itself is so damaged that a reconstruction doesn’t seem possible. Jensen guesses late teens to early twenties, with the caveat that he’ll be more sure after a proper exam in the lab. A person this age likely has local parents looking for her, for a generous definition of “local.” We’re close to the country border; if nothing obvious pops in the immediate area, we’ll have to look to Lincolnshire for their missing persons as well.” – Hardback Copy pg. 10

If Mathilde made the same guess…If she looked for her, and perhaps came close to finding her…then the crimes could be related.” – Hardback Copy pg. 73

“It’s the window of a photography studio displaying graduation portraits, team photos, and the like. His finger touches a tiny image of a dark-haired woman in a shiny dress. Our dead girl, as far as we know, had been fair-haired. At least, the hairs on her sweater were fair.” – Hardback Copy pg. 76

“I shivered and pushed forward. Danny needed his fresh clothes, so I jogged around to the side of the house. Mr. Bennet had planted winter shrubs around all the edge of the building, thin-branched bushes that snagged my clothes as I jogged past towards the climbing frame. They didn’t flower but were bright themselves: red, yellow, and orange. Together they gave the effect that the house was being cooked over a fire.” –Hardback Copy pg. 132

This psychological thriller is told from the perspective of many different characters and follows the tragic death of a young girl found in a flooded fen in Cambridge, England. Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann and her partner, Morris Keene, begin to piece the mystery together piece by piece and chapter by chapter. Along with the help of Mathilde Oliver, a young girl with a form of Autism, who is also trying to solve her own mystery. Could the two investigations somehow be related? Will their stories match up? Winslow has a writing style that is sure to keep readers hanging on for pages and pages of eerie twists and turns.

I am going to start with what I didn’t like about this book and then close with what I did enjoy last. First things first, this book started very slow for me and it took me awhile to pick up speed and really become invested in the story and the plot. Once I got into the story and connected with the characters, I had no problem finishing the book and really enjoying it. Secondly, I am all for multiple viewpoints but in this particular story and the way it was told, it just didn’t work for me. At times I was confused and constantly questioning characters motives. Like with my first complaint, this got better towards the middle of the book and definitely improved by the last one hundred pages, which I was totally into 100%!

Mathilde Oliver’s character was definitely my favorite! I mentioned before that she was written with a form of Autism and at first I thought her character seemed very distant and reclusive, and after understanding her character in full I understood why. She doesn’t like to be touched and she doesn’t really show emotion, even after the death of her father. I found her character to be unique and complex. I loved chapters from her perspective as well as from the perspective of Chloe Frohmann, the detective. I always love to read stories about female detectives. I just think there is something to be said for any woman doing a job like that.

The story, after the beginning, is very suspenseful and had me biting my nails. I feel like it is Halloween in February after all these thrillers I have been reading! I loved the mystery and the unfolding chapter by chapter was done very nicely and the transitions were smooth once I got far enough into the book. This was a first by Emily Winslow for me and I think her style is just one that I will have to get used to; it is very unique and complex but you just have to understand how to appreciate it!

***A big thank you to the publishers at Delacorte Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest, unbiased review***


  1. Sounds interesting. Always fun to get books written from different and underdone perspectives. I'm glad it picked up as it went on.