I don’t read too many thrillers, often preferring novels with a lot of character development and beautifully written prose. It’s just my reading style. But every now and then, I just want to get lost in a crazy, plot-driven storyline that will take me for a wild ride. The Chalk Man was my Book of the Month pick for December and I chose it because there has been a lot of hype around it. This is C.J. Tudor’s first book, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
One thing I loved about this book was the back and forth between past and present day. Each chapter would often end with a shocking piece of news that left me eager to read more. This book was the definition of, “just one more chapter” reading! I tore through this book because of all the cliffhangers along the way. Eddie narrates the story throughout and we see his perspective as an adolescent boy and as a forty-something man, living in a town crawling with tragic history. Adult Eddie is flawed. He drinks heavily and has even been caught inebriated at his job where he teaches English at the local school. Early on, the reader has to wonder what makes Eddie drink to forget? What happened to him? This is where the story begins to really unfold.
Young Eddie and his parents live in a small town (Adult Eddie still lives in his parents’ old house), and like any small town, there are many secrets. As a boy, Eddie begins to learn more about the secrets and lies hidden within homes. As more lies are uncovered, we begin to understand how all of this plays into the mysterious chalk men drawings and Eddie’s behavior as an adult. This was not a typical thriller with one main element responsible for all the mysteries and tragedies, and I really enjoyed that. Tudor does a beautiful job of exploring human character and tendencies in various scenarios. For me, the underlying theme throughout the story was the idea that human actions (or errors) can have unintended, but terrible consequences that impact a person’s future motivations and mentality.
Overall, I really enjoyed Tudor’s writing and the exciting plot. The creepy ending left me pretty shook and with many unanswered questions (not sure how I feel about not knowing all the answers). I would be curious to hear your thoughts, especially on that ending!
The Chalk Man is out this Tuesday, January 9!