Book Review: The Start of Everything – Emily Winslow

Title: The Start of Everything
Author: Emily Winslow
ISBN: 9780385342902
Pages: 272
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Literary Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5


When the body of a young woman is found in Cambridge, England, Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann is put on the case. But the body is badly decomposed and Chloe has an extremely difficult time determining who this woman was. Chloe must navigate a tangled web of deception, lies, and confusion in order to discover her identity and find out what really happened to her.


The Start of Everything is a layered novel with multiple storylines, five different narrators, and countless secondary characters. Sound confusing? It definitely can be. This is not a straightforward whodunit, with clear cut definitions and storylines. Things are more muddled in this book; the novel jumps between the past and present frequently. This can make it difficult to keep up with, but Winslow manages to soften the rough edges that usually come with this sort of narrative. Despite the fact that it is difficult at times, the overall storyline feels smooth.

Above all, The Start of Everything is a novel concerned with identity, as well as our conceptions of it. How do we conceive of ourselves? If we believe that a person is someone they’re not, how does that change our views of them? How does that information affect our construction of the identity we’ve built for them? It’s these kinds of questions this novel provokes. Much of it depends on this conception of identity, and the perils that mistaken identity can bring, so it’s definitely a thoughtful read.

There is a lot going on in The Start of Everything, enough to where you have to put some work into reading it. It’s satisfying, then, that Winslow brings everything together so well at the end. In some ways, it’s an explosive ending, and it absolutely makes the book worth reading when Winslow draws together all the characters and you discover the answers behind all these layered, connected mysteries that the book contains.

This is a novel you have to work for, but if you’re willing to do that, then The Start of Everything is absolutely worth your time. Winslow creates her atmosphere well, and the characters are definitely intriguing. For the most part, it’s a quiet novel, but the psychological aspects deliver a chilling sense that mystery readers will appreciate. It’s definitely one to consider for your next literary mystery.

Other books by Emily Winslow:

The Whole Wide Beauty

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