The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor
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 anymore, except darkness.
The Chalk Man is C.J. Tudor's debut crime novel and it's a doozy. I wasn't sure if that was going to be my final assessment, but by the end...yes, a doozy. I listened to this book on audio narrated by Euan Morton. I really liked his narration and will be looking to see if he's voiced other books. So, this book has gotten a lot of press and hype or it did when it was published earlier this year. It harks back to the 1980's and things present in that era - Stephen King stories and novels, music of the time, those movies with scary bits and teens in peril. Told in two time periods, 1986 and 2016, it's about Eddie 'Munster' Adams and his friends, a gang of five. It's also about a girl who was murdered. It's about what happens to the kids at that earlier time and also what happens after they are grown up. It's about their messages to each other, written in 'chalk code'. It's about secrets, lots and lots of secrets. Everyone has them, right? Everyone....and that's all I'll say about the plot.
I liked the book, most of it anyway. There were some grim and gruesome parts. There were some parts that made you angry about certain issues and sad. I guessed some things. I didn't guess others. I'm excited to know that C.J. Tudor will have a second book published next spring entitled The Taking of Annie Thorne. I'll be watching for it.
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.