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.
I was tempted by this when it was getting all the hype a few months back, but didn't get around to it. Glad to hear it lived up to the hype - I'll maybe try to fit the audiobook in sometime...ReplyDelete
I liked the sorta 'Stephen King'-ish vibe that it had. And, as I said, the audio was well done.Delete
I listened to this one too but didn't like it as much as you did. I think that's all on me, though, because I struggle with British accents on audio.ReplyDelete
Kathy, I remember you've mentioned that British accents are a little tough for you. I think I watch enough British crime shows that my ears are accustomed.Delete
It is sometimes pretty grim, and I had some problems with the characters at times, but it was intense, and I couldn't put it down.ReplyDelete
Intense is a good description for this book, Jenclair. Definitely a page turner.Delete
I will keep this book in mind for the future, maybe too grim for me.ReplyDelete
Hmmm...at a guess, you might want to pass on it. I think it would be a little gruesome for your usual read.Delete
As soon as I saw 'Stephen King'-ish I thought the same thing. I have liked some of his books and the way he tells a story but mostly beyond my comfort zone.Delete
I liked this one, too. Especially the parts when they were kids. And that ending! It was a doozy...and one I wasn't expecting. :)ReplyDelete
Yes. Definitely. As I said, I liked the 'Stephen King'-ish feel that it had. Kids, bodies, etc.Delete
This sounds good, but maybe I'll try it in print first rather than the audio. I have so many already and I'm not listening nearly as much as I used to!ReplyDelete
You might like it and then, you might not. Sometimes I have a hard time guessing about your 'grim'-meter.Delete
I saw this one around when it first came out, but wasn't sure what to think of it. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, I might have to check it out!ReplyDelete
It's got a lot of cultural references that are fun, but it is a bit grim in some parts and also a page-turner.Delete
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was intense in a different way. I can't wait to see what's the author has in store for us next.ReplyDelete
I totally agree, Melody. I'm hoping for a hint at her next book soon - beyond just the title.Delete
I listened to a podcast with the author and she is a huge King fan so I am wondering how her book holds up to his earlier, gruesome stuff. I have a copy of Chalk Man but will probably read it for the RIP challenge.ReplyDelete
As to the King connection, it definitely made me think of his earlier works. This one wasn't overly grim, but I think it would be a good RIP book.Delete