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.
“What shapes us is not always our achievements but our omissions. Not lies; simply the truths we don’t tell.”
The Chalk Man is CJ Tudor’s debut thriller. The story surrounds the past and present life of Eddie and his gang as well as the aftermath of the mysterious murder of Waltzer Girl. After reading this, I get a lot of Stephen King vibes (especially Stephen King’s IT). The main difference being, the bonding of Eddie and his gang is not as believable as the bonding between the friends in King’s novels (sorry I know I should not make such comparison). This is the main problem of the story to me: the characterization of the characters are not that engaging.
Other than that, it is without doubt that CJ Tudor is a very talented writer. Apart from the mystery, she also explored issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, religious persecution in this novel which I think its a plus point. Tudor also did a decent job in alternating two timelines smoothly without any awkwardness. While there are certain plot twists throughout the story, but I still did not get the “Oh I did not see this coming” feel.
All in all, a 7/10 star rating from me. Don’t get me wrong. This to me is still a decent debut novel and I heard Tudor’s subsequent works are better than the Chalk Man (currently reading The Taking of Annie Thorne). You should not miss CJ Tudor’s works if you are a fan of the thriller genre!