The Chalk Man
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he's put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank... until one of them turns up dead. That's when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published: January 9th 2018
Publishing House: Publishing Group (NY)
“Being an adult is only an illusion. When it comes down to it, I’m not sure any of us ever really grow up.”
― C.J. Tudor
Haunted by the things unsaid or the secrets kept…events that happened 20 years ago are finally catching up with a gang of friends from 1986. Ed, 12 years old at the time, is now a school teacher, living alone with the occasional lodger for some extra income.
“What shapes us is not always our achievements but our omissions. Not lies; simply the truths we don’t tell.”
― C.J. Tudor
Ed and his buddies are hanging out all the time. Think ‘Stranger Things’… they ride bikes, the play ball, watch movies etc, just like it used to be… always outside or over at someone’s house. One way of communicating to each other was drawing chalk symbols, so nobody but them knew what they were up to.
One day, the group makes a gruesome discovery. The body of a dismembered girl with her head missing. This was tragic for the entire town, and the murder was never solved.
Fast forward to 2016, Ed receives a letter with a chalk drawing in it…as do his old buddies. As Ed is slowly getting in touch with the others, more bodies turn up dead as he is slowly puzzling the pieces together.
Funny how people always repeat that word, even though they know they've heard it correctly. A kind of denial by delay.”
― C.J. Tudor
There are so many parts to the story and the reader travels back and forth between those two timelines. With so many characters involved the reader is picking up clues from the different viewpoints as to how this mystery will be solved. But things aren’t always what they appear to be. As Ed is forced to the brink of his sanity to keep it all together, the final twist in the plot delivers the hair raising truth…which I cannot give away!
This was an immense mystery to keep track of in regards to all events going on and clues given. Todor’s imagination is reaching far, branching so broadly that it takes a lot of plot to fill all that space. And she did it. Pretty amazingly too.
Unexpectedly, there were many great quotes in this novel that spoke to me. Perhaps because I was twelve in the 80’s? Well, therefore I cannot deny that I liked that atmosphere of the gang. I remember as kids being thrown together, only separated by background, yet united….tall, short, slow, fast…the witty one, the bully, the redhead (me), the sporty one, the lazy one…etc. And yes, we had our secret language too.
My review is only an abbreviated short of what is all happening in this novel. There are many other important characters and situations that I did not mention. Some of those are the parents and their influences on the kids, the siblings, the Reverend of the church and his dirty secrets, the homeroom teacher with his affinity for a young girl, the influence of moving, jobs, divorce, disability, bullying and abuse…just to name a few. By the end of the book you will know these characters and their story really well. Like I said, Todor did an amazing job honing it all in to commence to a twisty, amazing end.
Definitely try this thriller with the “and then some” added plot. It will not disappoint.
I enjoyed reading this novel with The Traveling Friends on Goodreads!