The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor, Crown Books 2018 hardcover, mystery novel.
note: This won the Barry Award for Best First Novel, was short listed for the National Book Award, and was awarded Best First at Thrillerfest.
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 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 he is in jeopardy, and that finding out what really happened all those years ago is the only thing left to do.
I’m not usually a fan of books and run on two timelines and jump between them. This book does that throughout, but I got used to it. There’s a lot more to the story than in the brief plot summary I gave above, including the new teacher (who is an albino) at school who gets Ed’s help in saving a girl’s life after an accident at a Fair, and Ed’s father, who is a writer, the Vicar whose words and deeds don’t align and others. The book is full of characters, most well-drawn, and they move the book along. I saw the twist(s) at the end coming, but no matter.
This is one of those books you like better the next day then when you finish the last page. While there are some first novel problems with the plot, I expect this one will stay on my mind for a while. I guess I’ll curse it with good, but not great. Your mileage may vary.
Have you read this? What are you reading?
All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg. Have started and put down a lot of books this week.
That seems to happen sometimes, other times everything seems good and I can’t read fast enough!
“The chalk men are their secret code;…” Sounds like the author was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”. In that story “The Dancing Men” are chalk stick figures used by members of a criminal gang to leave coded messages for each other.
I thought that at first, but this a different thing.
Tried reading Blood Sugar by Daniel Krause. The narration by a young boy which is in slang I found to be annoying. Read Nobody Move by Phillip Elliott, a first novel. I enjoyed this a lot. For fans of Elmore Leonard. Now reading Book of Bones by John Connelly which will take awhile since it’s almost 700 pages. Meanwhile a whole bunch of books came in from the library.
I had a bunch of books just come in too, Steve. I expected you would have read this book.a Aren’t Connelly’s books usually long?
Usually about 450-500. This is close to 700.
We’re in a hotel now so will have to get back to you on this, but I must admit that after reading the rave reviews I tried this one and gave up on it after 50 pages. It just didn’t interesme much.
The Library notified me that Lee Child’s BLUE MOON is waiting for me. I’ll pick it up tomorrow. I’m in the middle of THE GREAT SF STORIES #16 (1954). Wonderful stories! We’re suppose to be socked with 10 inches of snow tonight. But Big Orange and I are ready!
I read THE BIRDWATCHER by William Shaw on the plane ride home. Set in Kent in modern day rather than 1968 London as in his other series. I liked it.
Finally finished THE BEST OF MANHUNT. I liked a lot of the stories.
Also read DECEPTION COVE by Owen Laukkanen, which I liked quite a bit.
I finished the latest Longmire by Craig Johnson. As expected, it was really good.
I read VIRGIN, a religious thriller by F. Paul Wilson, first published as by “Mary Elizabeth Murphy.” The uncorrupted body of the Virgin Mary is found and miracles begin to occur, just not the miracles most expected. One of Wilson’s lesser novels.
My FFB was the small-press collection LOOK BEHIND YOU! by pulpster Arthur J. Burks. A flawed book with a few good parts.
This is the week to finally say goodbye to two of my favorite authors. After much procrastination, I went on Sheriff Dan Rhodes’ last adventure by Bill Crider. I’m about three-quarters through Ed Gorman’s final novel, ELIMINATION. Both authors have given me so much pleasure over the years and — with the exception of some books only available as e-Books and what books may still remain hidden under pseudonymns — I have now (or will today, in the case of Ed) finished all their novels. **sigh**
Have a great week!
I have been curious about THE CHALK MAN book, glad you gave an overview. I will give it a try someday.
I finished reading MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN by Lethem on Saturday. It took me 7 days to read even though I liked it a lot. I think the style demanded my attention and I could not read as fast as usual. Plus my last weeks of work are very intense and I am too tired to do much when I get home.
I started THE HUNTING PARTY yesterday (by Lucy Foley). The story is told by about 8-10 people at an exclusive hotel in the Scottish Highlands and the bouncing around in point of view is confusing at this point. My husband read it first and liked it … I hope I do.
This weekend I bought copies of books 3 and 4 in The Posadas County mysteries by Havill at my local bookstore. So I will be reading another one of those soon.
Already have about five inches here, George, and it is not due to end anytime soon. My snow removal doesn’t start until Dec. 1st. I hope they do the right thing because there is no way I can shovel all of this.