I’m baffled by the fact that The Chalk Man is C. J. Tudor’s debut novel! The story is maddeningly gripping, and the writing is impressively haunting, so much so that I had a hard time believing Tudor is a first time author! C. J. Tudor has certainly set the bar high for 2018 thrillers, and I couldn’t have picked a better book to be my first read this year!
The protagonist of The Chalk Man is Eddie; the son of a freelance writer and a doctor who works at an abortion clinic. The story oscillates between two timelines. In 1986, we see Eddie with his small gang of five friends fooling around like normal twelve-year-olds, looking for whatever excitement they can get. They have their own secret language; signs they draw in chalk. But when white chalk stick figures appear out of nowhere coinciding with crimes that take place in their small village, it looks like some mysterious chalk man is attempting to lead these kids towards a haunting event that they will never forget.
In 2016 when we meet Eddie again, he is a bit of a recluse with a drinking problem. Their gang has broken up, and Eddie only hangs out with two of his old friends although they are not close as they used to be. So when Eddie and his old friends receive drawings of a chalk stick figure in the mail, it looks like someone is trying to pull their leg, or the mysterious chalk man is back! And this time when one of their old gang members ends up dead, Eddie has to revisit the past and try to figure out what happened 30 years back.
The Chalk Man is a book that kept me on the edge of my seat through the night yesterday. It has many twists and turns, so reading it was an exhilarating experience. There are also instances of sharp social commentary woven into the story, especially about society’s hypocritical views on Eddie’s mother’s chosen profession at the abortion clinic, and to me it added to the story’s appeal.
The Chalk Man is an exceptionally good debut that I can confidently recommend to anyone. So if you get a chance to read this, don’t pass it up! 🙂