By: C. J. Tudor
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: 1/9/2018
My Rating: 4 Stars
A riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry, and will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending.
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.
Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.
Buy the Book
Cleverly plotted, C. J. Tudor amps up the terror in her frightening, highly creative debut thriller— THE CHALK MAN. Revolving around Eddie Adams in 1986 with his four 12-year-old best mates in the picturesque English town of Anderbury.
A coming-of-age tragedy, weaving past and present, a haunting look at childhood friendships and secrets. When the past— will not stay buried.
The gang: Eddie Adams (nickname Eddie Munster from The Addams Family), Fat Gav, Metal Mickey (braces) Hoppo (David Hopkins), and Nicky. Nicky was the only girl. However, she was one of the guys.
Every kid wants to find a dead body. What could be more exciting? Right?
They wanted to find something bad that day. They did indeed.
Where did the problem start? Was it when Fat Gav got the bucket of chalks for his birthday? Or was it when they started drawing the chalk figures or when they started to appear on their own? The accident, or when they found the first body?
The Chalk Man gave Eddie the idea for the drawings. He could leave secret messages for friends. However, it led them to something sinister. A body of a young girl.
Which came first?. The chalk men or the killing? A chalk man to lead the way. Just like before. Once again. Who is the Chalk Man?
More than thirty years ago and the past will not stay buried. Now Ed receives a letter. Two pieces of chalk and a drawing of a stick figure.
History begins to repeat itself. Ed soon realizes the game was never over.
The message is apparent. A stick figure with a noose around its neck.
“Karma. What you sow, you reap. You do bad things, and they’ll come back eventually and bite you on the backside.”
In 2016, Mickey returns to the small village with plans to write a book about the girl’s murder with the approaching 30th anniversary of the killing.
“Time to face the Chalk Man.”
. . . “It’s time to take a ride back down memory lane. Except this route is dark overgrown with tangled knots of lies and secrets, and full of hidden potholes. And along the way, there are chalk men.”
THE CHALK MAN is a gripping exploration of the dark places within the human mind and an impressive debut. Filled with horror. Frightening, compelling, taut, creepy and chilling! A shocking spine-tingling conclusion.
If you grew up in the 80’s (in my case, raising my kids in the 80’s), a sharp reminder of films (books) Stephen King’s Stand By Me and Harlan Coben’s The Five. Two memorable films.
Not sure after reading, you will ever be able to pick up a piece of chalk without thinking of THE CHALK MAN.
A special thank you to Crown Publishing and #NetGalley for an early reading copy. Looking forward to listening to the audiobook narrated by Euan Morton coming 1.09.18!
Jan Must Reads
Interview with C. J. Tudor and The Chalk Man
The Chalk Man is a creepy coming-of-age murder mystery that bounces between 2016 and 1986, when readers first meet 12-year-old Eddie and his friends. They invent a game: drawing chalk figures on the ground to pass secret messages. But the game turns sinister when the figures start to appear on their own and lead them to the body of a girl. Read More
“Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT…[the] first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.”
“[A] promising debut…with the nightmarish inevitability of the Grimmest of tales…her storytelling prowess is undeniable.”
“I haven’t had a sleepless night due to a book for a long time. The Chalk Man changed that.”
—Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow
“CJ Tudor has written an utterly original novel—a thriller in which the suspense comes not simply from what happens, but from that dark place within the human mind from which all the greatest mysteries and terrors emerge. This one will hold you in its grip to the last page.”
—Joyce Maynard, New York Times bestselling author of Under the Influence and To Die For
“Utterly Hypnotic. The Chalk Man is a dream novel, a book of nightmares: haunted and haunting, shot through with shadow and light - a story to quicken the pulse and freeze the blood. A dark star is born.”
—A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window
“What a great book. A twisty thriller and downright creepy ending. Five stars.”
—Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
“Imaginative, with an intriguing premise that straddles two fascinating worlds. It’s a frenetic ride that’s deep and alluring, oozing with suspense. A rollicking good time.”
—Steve Berry, New York Times Bestselling author of The 14th Colony
“C.J. Tudor knows the twelve-year-old who still lives in all of us, that kid who chills himself to the bone with an intuition of what lurks in the woods, or in his own closet, and The Chalk Man walks the haunted bridge between then and now—between sheer childhood terrors and a true crime so grisly and personal it’s cold hand never leaves the back of your neck. Suburban adolescents on bikes, squeamish love, nascent sexuality meets adult-world obsession and lust and violence...and through it all runs an affecting story of friendship, loss, and the inescapable frailties of mind and body.”
—Tim Johnston, New York Times Bestselling author of Descent
“The Chalk Man is coming and there's nothing you can do to stop him. Tense, skilful storytelling and plenty of horror.”
— Ali Land, Sunday Times bestselling author of Good Me, Bad Me
“In The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor brilliantly weaves past and present into a haunting, vividly imagined tale. Much more than a murder mystery, it is a sharp, terrifying exploration of the bonds and limitations of childhood friendships and of secrets that refuse to remain buried. I fell in love with the guiding voice of this novel, the thoughtful and solitary Eddie. Prepare to be surprised again and again, even until the final page.”
— Michelle Richmond, author of The Marriage Pact
“A cleverly constructed, artfully told tale of secrets, lies, and warped passions — featuring a troubled protagonist, a terrible murder that wasn’t what it seemed to be, and a raging monster at the heart of it all.”
—John Verdon, internationally bestselling author of Think of a Number and the Nero Award-winning Peter Pan Must Die
“C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man is a stunning debut, a riveting thriller about the powerful grip of the past and the unbreakable bonds of childhood friendship. The ending of this smasher will completely throw you for a loop. Don’t miss a word of it!”
—David Bell, bestselling author of Bring Her Home and Somebody I Used to Know
“The Chalk Man is an intricate and surprising book that will reward the reader who approaches it with the attention it deserves.”
—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of The Old Man
“Tense, skillful storytelling.”
—Ali Land, internationally bestselling author of, Good Me Bad Me
“Kept me up until five in the morning. Wonderfully written. I loved it!”
—Kimberley Chambers, bestselling author of Backstabber and The Wronged
“It’s been a while since I’ve read such an impressive debut. The pace was perfectly judged, the characters superbly drawn and there’s a creeping sense of unease that starts with the prologue and grows throughout the book. And then that ending! It feels so fresh and deserves to be a huge success.”
—James Oswald, bestselling author of the Inspector McLean series
“What an amazing debut! Such an ingenious, original idea. I was engrossed from the very first page. I loved how the 1986 and present day storylines weaved so skillfully together to create that unforgettable and unexpected ending. Compelling, taut and so very, very chilling. This book will haunt you!”
—Claire Douglas, bestselling author of Last Seen Alive
“Impossible to put down, cleverly constructed and executed.”
—Ragnar Jonasson, author of the bestselling Dark Iceland series
“C.J. Tudor bursts onto the scene with a page-turning thriller that draws simple but terrifying lines about evil and the haunting nature of childhood. Flip open the first page and you’ll curl up all night.”
— Julia Heaberlin, Sunday Times bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans
About the Author
C. J. Tudor lives in Nottingham, England with her partner and three-year-old daughter.
Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover and dog-walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.
THE CHALK MAN is her first novel. Follow on Twitter