Summary and book reviews of The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor

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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Book Summary

The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry that 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 little 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.

Prologue

The girl's head rested on a small pile of orange-and-brown leaves.

Her almond eyes stared up at the canopy of sycamore, beech and oak, but they didn't see the tentative fingers of sunlight that poked through the branches and sprinkled the woodland floor with gold. They didn't blink as shiny black beetles scurried over their pupils. They didn't see anything any more, except darkness.

A short distance away, a pale hand stretched out from its own small shroud of leaves as if searching for help, or reassurance that it was not alone. None was to be found. The rest of her body lay out of reach, hidden in other secluded spots around the woods.

Close by, a twig snapped, loud as a firecracker in the stillness, and a flurry of birds exploded out of the undergrowth. Someone approached.

They knelt down beside the unseeing girl. Their hands gently caressed her hair and stroked her cold cheek, fingers trembling with anticipation. Then they lifted up her head, dusted off a ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review (817 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though Tudor makes a couple of rookie missteps, including excessive plot twists seemingly for the sake of surprise, her storytelling prowess is undeniable.

Publishers Weekly
An absorbing debut with a well-crafted mystery and a solid dose of Stand by Me creepiness.

Kirkus Reviews
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.

Author Blurb Joyce Maynard, New York Times bestselling author of Under the Influence and To Die For
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.

Author Blurb A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window
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.

Author Blurb Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
What a great book. A twisty thriller and downright creepy ending. Five stars.

Author Blurb Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The 14th Colony
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.

Reader Reviews

Jean L

Good read
This is a quickly read book as it holds your attention. I found it riveting. The back and forth in time did not bother me as much as I thought it might. Each chapter had the year posted at the beginning.'I would recommend it to any readers who ...   Read More

Linda W. (Arlington, TX)

Excellent!
The Chalk Man has only one narrator and two time periods, making it a welcome relief after some recent suspense novels that had too many characters and too much switching back and forth of time periods. When Eddie is 12 years old, terrible things ...   Read More

Carolyn (Summerville,SC)

Who Is The Chalk Man?
I enjoyed this book. It held my interest throughout, and drew me back to read more late at night. I am getting tired of books that switch back and forth through time, but that format did work here, for the most part. The story was quite ...   Read More

Diane S. (El Paso, TX)

Who is the chalk man?
Who is the chalk man? That was the question hovering in the back of my mind as I became engrossed in this suspenseful and dark thriller. The author effectively shifts back and forth from events that occurred in 1986 to what's happening in 2016 as ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Sidewalk Chalk

Chalk DrawingIn C. J. Tudor's thriller The Chalk Man, twelve-year-old Eddie and his friends create a secret language using stick figures drawn with chalk. The story takes place in 1986, but of course chalk games have been around for a lot longer than that.

Chalk has too. The word chalk comes from the latin calx, which means limestone. Limestone is composed primarily of the shells and skeletons of marine animals that first accumulate as a sediment and then, over millions of years, turn to stone. This limestone is, in essence, chalk.

Chalk was used all the way back in prehistoric times to draw on cave walls; and, paired with a piece of slate, had been used for centuries as a temporary way to record information, not just for students but also in ...

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