The End of Winter
Do you ever really know the one you love?
Surgeon Michael Severin flies to disaster areas all over the world – floods, earthquakes, fires. He is good at his work, decisive, courageous and skilled – a natural rescuer.
He learns the cost of his successful life, however, only when he returns home early from an assignment to find his wife Caitlin dying from a brutal assault in their London home. His world shattered, Severin sets out to unravel the tangled skein of events which led to the tragedy.
He finds more questions than answers. Who is the strange young woman who comes to his home one night, knowing more than she ought to? Who was sending Caitlin childish pictures of a mysterious house in the woods?
In following these trails Michael Severin comes to know his dead wife as he never knew her in life. And he discovers that a man can be equal to any tragedy, except his own.
I bought The End of Winter because it is described as a crime thriller – my favourite genre – and I was expecting the typical fast-paced hunt for a killer, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. What I got instead was not so much a thriller, but a beautifully written, haunting tale of grief and regret.
Dr Michael Severin returns from working away to find his wife dying on the stairs. The police investigation into Caitlin’s murder soon reveals that Michael didn’t know her quite as well as he thought, and the book follows his own attempts to discover the truth about their marriage and what happened on the day she died. It is not, however, a race to uncover the clues and find the person responsible. Michael’s need for the truth is more about coping with the bereavement than a need for justice, and much of the book is focused on his loneliness and feelings of failure rather than the crime.
The End of Winter is told from Michael’s perspective, and the narrative has a depressing quality that highlights the tragedies he has seen in his life. There are regular flashbacks to earlier times spent with Caitlin, which helps us to understand their relationship and the problems they faced before she died.
Some reviewers have said this book is too slow, and that they got bored. It is certainly not the race against time that I am so used to within this genre, and the bleak mood of the writing may not be for everyone. But the intriguing descriptions and the flawed characters kept me turning the pages. I had a number of different theories about how Caitlin died, and had accused near enough every character by the time the mystery was finally solved, but I still felt surprised by the outcome. And yet, despite the interesting twist, in some ways I feel like this story is not really about discovering who killed Caitlin. After finishing the book it was not the details of the crime or investigation that were most memorable, but the depictions of grief and anguish over past mistakes.