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Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor
Publish Date: January 9, 2018
Genre: Mystery Thriller
My Rating: 4/5
A riveting 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 on the verge of adolescence, spending their days biking in search of adventure. The chalk men are their secret code, stick figures they draw for one another as hidden messages. But one morning the friends find a chalk man leading them to the woods. They follow the message, only to find the dead body of a teenage girl.
In 2016, Eddie is nursing a drinking problem and trying to forget his past, until one day he gets a letter containing a chalk man—the same one he and his friends saw when they found the body. Soon he learns that all his old friends received the same note. When one of them is killed, Eddie realizes that saving himself means figuring out what happened all those years ago. But digging into the past proves more dangerous than he could have known. Because in this town, everyone has secrets, no one is innocent, and some will do anything to bury the truth.
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In 1986, Eddie and his friends discover the body of a teen girl in the woods. In 2016, Eddie and his friends are grown, and the mysteries they faced in 1986 come back to haunt them.
The Chalk Man is told from Eddie’s viewpoint and two time periods – 1986 and 2016. Eddie recalls his youth as a twelve-year-old and the time he spent with his friends – Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky. Each of the kids has challenges in their lives, making them a little different from the other kids in their small English town, and what draws them to be unlikely friends. As the kids hang out and have adventures, they start using chalk to draw stick figures and leave coded notes for each other.
In 2016, Eddie receives a mysterious message that includes a piece of chalk. When he realizes his old friends have also received notes with chalk, he becomes determined to find out who is behind the messages. As he looks into the past, Eddie learns everyone has secrets, and some people don’t want the truth to come out.
The switch between past and present was compelling. Traumatic events happen to the kids during their youths, including witnessing a terrible accident, losing a brother, and living with an abusive parent. It was interesting to see how past events shaped the friends lives and what they were like as adults.
An enjoyable read, but I did feel that some parts were not fully developed. Good for fans of psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators. A great debut novel. Dark, creepy, and suspenseful.