Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C. J Tudor
Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Murder-Mystery
Set in the small English town of Anderbury, The Chalk Man flicks between two time periods and is told by a narrator who lived through both. In the late 80s, Eddie Adams was a young boy who spends the majority of his time hanging out with his ramshackle group of friends. But the novel really kicks off when an accident at a local fair pushes Eddie to meet Mr. Halloran – also known as The Chalk Man. And this starts a chain of events that begins with simple chalk figures and ends with the discovery of a body.
The novel then moves to 2016, as we find Eddie living a kind of half-life as he struggles with being an adult, living in an expensive house and playing host to his young lodger – a grungy punky girl called Chloe. Eddie thinks his past is behind him. Until a mysterious letter is posted through his door, and an old friend comes knocking. Eddie then starts to wonder whether history is going to repeat itself and whether this game that started with chalk will end the same way as it did thirty years previous. With a dead body.
Oddly enough, when I read the blurb, I thought this was going to be a dystopian novel. Like the chalk figures were going to signal the start of some strange takeover. So I went into this novel expecting something completely different.
I’m a big fan of the small town genre, so I got drawn in very quickly to the novel. The first half of the novel moved at quite an interesting pace, with bits that really jolted me and made me slightly squeamish to read. However, as this is a thriller, the ending where all the loose ties came together was just sloppy.Yes everything tied up fairly well, but it wasn’t enjoyable to read. The build-up of tension that had been promised in the first half just disappeared as we found out the answers to some mysteries.
And this may be due to the lack of connection with the characters. As this novel flicks between two time periods, the majority of the characters are shown in both eras. And for me, this should mean that we can see how Eddie’s boyhood gang changed as they grew up. Which we kind of do, but mainly don’t. The characters are physically there, but they aren’t fleshed out at all.
The plot had all the promise to be super interesting, and in some parts it was. But I think the delivery was off. I think what C.J Tudor needed to do was really cut back on the different plot points (there were subplots about abortion, religion, sexual abuse to name just a few) and these weren’t explored well enough to make an impact.
But for a first novel, I was impressed by the imagination that the author had. I’d love to see how she progresses as an author.
You can buy the book here