Home Reviews The End of Us—brilliantly twisted crime

The End of Us—brilliantly twisted crime

The End of Us|Olivia Kiernan|riverrun|€15.99

by Catherine Murphy

Like many fans of crime fiction I’ve probably read every kind of killing-people-plot, but now and then something comes along that stops me in my reading tracks, and has me sit up and take notice. The End of Us by Olivia Kiernan shook me to the core in all the best ways. Spoiler: I loved it.

What is important in great crime lit isn’t the type of victim or the make of murderer, or even the reason for the crime, it’s the same as with every other genre: the story. The twists and turns and the very human emotions of love and fear, distrust and anger, that we all recognise in one form or another, that we know so well—the emotions that bring these characters that little step further, to doing terrible, terrible things.

Evil things.

Dark shadows

The End of Us is a skilfully written tale by an author who knows exactly how to lead her readers through the dark shadows of human nature. Meet Myles and Lana. They have it made. He’s a doctor, she’s a psychologist. They live in a gorgeous house on a fancy gated estate, the kind of place the rest of us can only look at through the iron railings… 

But he’s in trouble.

From the very first page I was HOOKED—I fell into Kiernan’s trap. 

Myles holds a deeply painful fear of losing everything. He’s messed up, and when his fears start to become reality and the letters come from the bank, he sees his childhood echoed in the building panic. Again, he feels the wrench of his mother leaving and of watching his father descend into alcoholism, and the cold of his upbringing starts to creep in to his shiny home. Myles’ wife, Lana, is everything to him. He has to keep his worries from her and he has to fix what has gone wrong…

This, for me, is what I really love about a ‘gripping’ story, when the mug of tea grows cold beside me and I’m not looking up from the pages even for the dog, and with each chapter I change my mind as to what might be about to happen and the reasons and the connections and then—


Olivia Kiernan turns it around, and around, and around.

Myles and Lana are panicking. They are losing everything, including one another, desperately clinging to any kind of hope they can find. The new neighbours invite them to dinner. The Wrights are smart and funny and very wealthy. The Wrights have an idea…

The End of Us is not just about murder. We know that’s coming, it’s in the very first line:

I don’t know if it all started with the murder. 

The story told here is about the darkness behind the line. Myles could have admitted to his wife and to his friends, and to the world, what was happening, and he could sell up his fancy house and start again, but he doesn’t want to.

The Wrights know this.

Lana doesn’t want to give up her haircuts and her beauty treatments and her princess-won fancy things she’s always had and loved. She was her Daddy’s little princess, a spoiled and privileged rich girl.

And the Wrights know this, too.

Myles had built their lives from the nails up:

I’d worked hard on my life here, stitched myself into the fabric of the community. Cut ribbons at charity picnics, attended garden parties and gallery openings. Washed clean the stains of my childhood until the sour tang of imposter syndrome was a distant memory.

A private doctor, people trusted him. They liked him—and if now and then someone glimpsed through the thin gauze to the man he really was, then Myles would out-smart them, he’d get around them, he’d discredit their views and he’d gaslight the others. He’d tie each lie with another, and he’d smile, charming the next.

Around and around and around…

And the more he thinks about what the Wrights suggest, the more it begins to make sense.

The End of Us is brilliantly twisted. To my shame, I had never read an Olivia Kiernan book before this one but a quick search shows me I’ve missed out. I can’t wait to read the rest. This is a cracking book. 

Catherine Murphy