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BookBrowse Reviews The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor

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The Chalk Man

by C. J. Tudor

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor X
The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 288 pages

    Paperback:
    Dec 2018, 288 pages

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A riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry.

C. J. Tudor has written a thriller that ping-pongs from the past to the present, keeping our readers both on their toes and up at night! See for yourself why The Chalk Man has received a 4 or 5 rating from 18 out of 22 BookBrowse readers.

How can you not be intrigued when the first sentence of a book starts: "The girl's head rested on a small pile of orange-and-brown leaves." The mystery pulled me in but it was the earnest, honest voices that got my vote (Lani S). Set in 1986 and 2006 through alternating chapters, C.J. Tudor had my attention from page 1. When The Chalk Man opens, we know that a murder has been committed, but the clues are handed out a little at a time until the very final question has been answered on the very last page. The creepy factor kept the pages turning, but the book was also a sort of coming-of-age story with beautiful passages that were so very heart-filled (Patty S). In the present we find one of the kids, Eddie, now grown. He is leading a fairly normal life when one of the group returns to town and is later found murdered. Suddenly the past returns with a vengeance and to save himself and his friends Eddie must find out what happened all those years ago (Peggy K). I was struck by the resemblance to Stand By Me, which also involved a group of young kids. This story involves a group of young kids who have formed together to find adventure and protect each other from bullies. They create a way to message each other by using chalk figures. It is a great game until a figure leads them to a murdered young girl (Peggy K). It is both a harsh story and yet poignant with friendship, love and misunderstandings (Rosemary C).

The novel's twists and turns, as well as its unreliable narrators, mean you can't predict the mystery's conclusion!

Great thriller! Just when I thought that I had it figured out, there was a great plot twist (Kristen H). The Chalk Man is told from the alternating points of view of the protagonist, Eddie as a twelve year old and Ed the adult. Neither are completely reliable as a narrator, as they protect their own and others' secrets. The plot is full of twists and turns and red herrings and I found myself racing through the pages to see how it all ended (Lori L). There was no way I could guess the ending to this creative thriller. As we learned from Eddie, questions we have in our childhood never actually give us satisfactory answers even when we become adults. We put them away and move on. Secrets are put on hold and a new part of our life begins. Who is the Chalkman? Can you discover his secrets before death catches up with you? Perfect characters, an involved storyline and a surprising ending (Patricia D).

Our readers felt that C. J. Tudor was so skilled at getting inside the mind of a 12 year old boy:

The author has a very sound grasp of the thoughts and behaviors of 12-year-old boys and has put her expertise to good use in this novel (Lani S). Particularly notable is her ability to get into the minds of what twelve year olds are thinking (circa 1986) and her poignant descriptions of the ravages of dementia on individuals and families (Jeff M). When Eddie is 12 years old, terrible things happen in his village, and he tells us how he remembers them. When he's 42, he's still living in the same house in the same village and bad things start happening again, involving the same people. But is he telling the whole story? Is he an unreliable narrator? A very well written, suspenseful and believable novel (Linda W).

Our readers highly recommend The Chalk Man:

From the first page to the last, there are twists and turns and secrets revealed to help unravel unfortunate occurrences and a gruesome murder. The characters are slowly developed both as children and adults to make the outcomes understandable. Just when I thought I had figured things out another detail would be revealed. I would recommend this book to those who like mysteries and thrillers (Mary Jane DS). The characters are well-developed, and I particularly appreciated the author's dry sense of humor. And then there is the uber-creepy ending...yikes! If you love a well-constructed mystery, The Chalk Man doesn't disappoint (Diane S). If you're looking for a non-detective-centric, decently written mystery with a healthy dose of twists and turns, The Chalk Man is for you (Kristina H). Readers from 16 and up will enjoy this tale but perhaps it is most enjoyable for those of us who grew up in a quieter time when playing with friends meant getting out and not sitting in front of a computer (Peggy K).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in January 2018, and has been updated for the January 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Sidewalk Chalk

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