TITLE: The Chalk Man
AUTHOR: C. J. Tudor
PUBLISHED: January 9, 2018
PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon, Mobilism
Description: A riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry, and will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending**
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy 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 one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever 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 that his friends got the same message, 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.
Review: The Chalk Man, a debut novel by Nottingham, UK-based C. J. Tudor is a well crafted, tightly-written novel as the early and advance reviews portrayed. It also fits every notion of the quiet, idyllic villages we Americans envision Brits live in but very dark subtext (example Badgers Drift a la Midsomer Murders).
Anderbury, fictional township, has its dirty little secret. Ed, aka Eddie, aka Eddie Munster, has lived in Anderbury all his life. Plagued by his past and the childhood he experienced. Starting in 2016 and alternating flashbacks to 1986, transporting us to the antics of his 12 year old self and back to his 42 year old “satisfied with middle of the road” life. As with all mysteries, the past comes back to haunt him. Having to face this past, The Chalk Man, led him and his friends to the discovery of a dismembered body of a girl, to the revelation and death of a friend leading Eddie to believe he can finally put to rest the past that haunts him 30 years later.
Most people have too many friends. And I use the term “friends” loosely. Online “friends” are not real friends. Real friends are something different. Real friends are there, no matter what. Real friends are people you love and hate in equal measure but who are as much a part of you as yourself.
--Tudor, C. J.. The Chalk Man: A Novel (Kindle Locations 3446-3448).
Plot is strong and well versed, slow and cumbersome at the start but as the revelations come fast and heavy it becomes apparent the past is very dark and dangerous. It begs to ask “Can you really trust anybody?” The characters: Eddie Munster, Hoppo, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, and Nicky set me back to my youth and became relatable. His whole life changing by just a simple accident at the village fête, a new school teacher, and oddly a stick of chalk.
I’m an American so my ideas about Britain has always been about small quaint villages with everyone knows everyone and the vicar is your sole confidant. Having seen Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, particularly Hot Fuzz (I know Britain is more than that, I do follow Liverpool Football Club but let’s digress a bit for this review), I know that these villages always have their secrets, dark and hidden. It opened my mind, gave me a wry smile as I drew up Anderbury, setting the scenes the best I could.
With debut novels, an open mind should be afforded to every story. Even towards the second novel by an author. Tudor has written a well-versed opening silo to her career. Incomparable to others and unique, thrilling to the point, no guesswork on any part of my own (ideally I try to piece together probable suspects when reading a mystery so as I can play detective along with the storyline) cause even I was left in awe and astonishment at the mind-bending revelation at the end.