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The Chalk Man
The Chalk Man
Author: C. J. Tudor
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 cha...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781524760991
ISBN-10: 1524760994
Publication Date: 12/31/2018
Pages: 304
Edition: Reprint
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.

3.7 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Broadway Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 8
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review
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Readnmachine avatar reviewed The Chalk Man on + 1248 more book reviews
Parts of this twisty, well-plotted thriller are inevitably going to be compared to "Stand By Me", since it involves a small group of pre-teen buddies finding the body of a murdered girl in the woods. But it's not a true comparison, because in this work, the echoes of the crime resound through their lives for 30 years, and the tendrils that twined the group together never really let go.

Tudor has chosen to present the story by flashing back and forth between the period when the body was found and the characters' present day -- a technique not quite as annoying as it might have been, because it allows key bits of information to be doled out at the most appropriate times to keep the reader engaged and guessing. I found the early parts of the book a bit of a hard go at first, but the final 75 pages or so were definitely un-put-downable.

There's a fairly large cast of characters, not all of whom are carefully drawn. Some of the parents, particularly, are vague presences. This would normally not be an issue in a book about children's friendships, but in this case, the parents come in and out of the story throughout. Some of the British-isms may make give readers accustomed to American English a bit of a brain-stutter, but they're not overwhelming.

The mysteries (there are more than one) are nicely plotted, and the twist at the end may not be as big a surprise as the promotions promise, particularly if one is familiar with the concept of an unreliable narrator. Because Eddie, who is the exclusive POV character, isn't always forthcoming. He lies to his parents (what 12-year-old boy doesn't?), he steals things -- sometimes the things most kids steal like candy or small toys, but also things he really has no use for like a stray earring and a china figurine -- just because he wants them for his "collections". And the adult Ed is a solitary, somewhat neurotic man, still living in his childhood home and still unable to lay the ghosts that haunted his childhood.

The motif of the chalk man is nicely used throughout. Something that started as a secret code within the group becomes more and more menacing as the contemporary sections of the book unspool. It's an interesting device, with just enough unanswered questions about who is leaving them and why.

Overall, it's a fine read once it gets into gear. I'll be looking for more from this author.

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