Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on January 9th 2018
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.
“There are some things in life you can alter – your weight, your appearance, even your name – but there are others that wishing and trying and working hard can never make any difference to. Those are the things that shape up. Not the things we can change, but the ones we can’t.“
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor. This book is blowing it up all over the interwebs!! If your genres include mystery, thrillers, or psychological thrillers you’ve probably had this book on your radar for months. I know many of you have already read it.
The book begins with a gruesome, chilling scene that drew me in immediately. The year is 1986 (ah, I remember it well) and the small English village of Anderbury is rocked by the discovery of a dismembered body in a wooded area. Eddie and his friends, who use chalk men as a form of secret communication, discover the body after being directed by a series of – you guessed it – chalk men.
The Chalk Man toggles between 1986, the period of and after the murder, and 2016. Eddie and a couple of his friends have remained in the same village and suddenly begin to receive letters containing – you guessed it – chalk men!
The plot in this story is as bizarre and twisted as they come. In truth, the level of bizarro is what actually kept this book from being a five star read for me. There were, I can’t believe I’m saying this, too many twists and turns and layers to the story. While I absolutely LOVED the author’s obviously rich imagination, too many strange/coincidental/appalling elements increased the implausibility factor. I appreciate books, especially mysteries and thrillers, where I feel like I’m teetering on the brink between the unlikely and the impossible. The Chalk Man strayed just a tad closer to the impossible a few too many times.
As far as the characters are concerned, I thought they were very well drawn though I didn’t feel a connection to any of them aside from Eddie and perhaps Nicky. That said, I don’t feel that this detracted from the book in any way. I some ways I think it actually enhanced my experience in that everyone could remain suspect and I was open to all the surprises that were in store.
The Chalk Man is an impressive debut novel. In the Acknowledgements C.J. Tudor thanks her agent for “plucking my manuscript from the slush pile and spotting its potential”. If this was sitting in the slush pile, I certainly hope some more digging will be done. I will definitely be among those first in line to read her future titles.
Edit 1/19/2018 – Rafflecopter was having some issues last night so I was unable to post the giveaway but here it is. Good luck!
Many thanks to Crown Publishing and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.