The Chalk Man is a debut physiological crime thriller that is a cracker of a read! Reminiscent of a good Stephen King novel, I devoured The Chalk Man in one sitting. It was simply unputdownable!
The novel starts with the discovery of a young girl’s body in the woods, her body in pieces, and her head taken, never to be found by the police. For the twelve-year-old gang of friends, the story perhaps goes back further, to when Eddie first met the Chalk Man. The Chalk Man gave Eddie the idea of doing chalk drawings as a way to leave secrets between their group of friends – Fat Gav, Metal Mickey and Hippo. But then the chalk drawings led them to the body of the girl in the woods.
Thirty years later and Ed thought discovering the murdered girl was in the past, but then he receives a letter containing two things: a piece of chalk and a drawing of a stick figure, and the nightmare and mystery seems to start all over again.
The Chalk Man is a brilliantly plotted book, with memorable characters and plenty of tension as the story unfolds, alternating from 1986 to 2016. It is atmospheric and captures so well a group of 12-year-olds, and then their older selves after the discovery of the murdered girl. Reading this I kept changing my mind about who the killer was likely to be, C.J. Tudor is a wonderful tease! Nothing is quite what it seems to begin with, and the reader discovers most of the characters have secrets, even the children. The Chalk Man captures the haunting nature of childhood and is a skillful and increasingly tense read.
REVIEWER: Karen McKenzie
Penguin Random House, RRP $37.00