The Chalk Man – C. J. Tudor


The Chalk Man is published by Penguin on 18 January 2018 and is available to buy here

THE book of 2018. The Chalk Man is coming . . .

Looking back, it all started on the day of the fair and the terrible accident. When twelve-year-old Eddie first met the Chalk Man.

It was the Chalk Man who gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages between his group of friends.

And it was fun, to start with, until the figures led them to the body of a young girl.

That was thirty years ago and Ed thought the past was behind him. Then he receives a letter containing just two things: a piece of chalk, and a drawing of a stick figure. As history begins to repeat itself, Ed realises the game was never over . . .

Everyone has secrets.

Everyone is guilty of something.

And children are not always so innocent.

My thoughts

The Chalk Man. Remember the name. This is one hell of a terrific read. It is 1980s retro magic, with a belter of a mystery, spooky chalk drawings and a bunch of funny kids. The Chalk Man is going to be one of the books for 2018. I predict a best-seller!

We start our thrilling journey in 1986, a time I remember well. The cultural references are spot on. Who doesn’t remember penny sweets at Woolies and watching Peter Davison as Doctor Who? I loved Peter Davison. We meet Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, Nicky and of course Eddie. Ace names for cool kids! These twelve year olds are growing up. For now, they are in a gang exploring the world and making sense of the adult things around them. Eddie is the one we follow, as a boy and then as a scruffy English teacher in 2016. He is a sweet nerd or girlie swot as we would have called them back in the day, who collects things. In the present day, he lives in his own little world of school and his old mates. Yes, still a nerd!

One day, twelve year old Eddie sees a gorgeous teenage girl badly injured at a fair ground. This leaves a lasting impact on him. He has a massive crush on her. This marks a turning point. Things begin to get weird for the gang. They mess around with chalk on pavements, leaving cryptic messages for each other. The world gets darker. Someone is murdered. Someone else is left for dead. In the present day, Eddie finds the ghosts of the past returning to haunt him and his friends. He receives a mysterious letter, with a drawing of a chalk man.

There is so much to adore about the Chalk Man. I was in love with the powerful writing, that chips away at your memories and reminds you of things long forgotten. It is perfection in a book. A murder mystery, with a bunch of quirky kids in southern England and a blast of subtle humour. There is a dark edge to the drama, that resonates and stays with you. It is so addictive. Murder touches the lives of this community. We see serious issues of bullying, rape and abortion played out. This is a time of hidden secrets and a million questions. The mid 1980s era is brought to life lovingly and evocatively. If you lived then, you will totally appreciate how C. J. Tudor captures the time, the camaraderie of childhood and the mysteries of growing up. Of course, the children are wonderfully portrayed, warts and all. Their dialogue is amazing and funny. They felt so real to me. I was a part of their gang.

The Chalk Man is out in early 2018. It is exceptional. Be prepared to be in awe. I predict you will fall in love with it, as much as I did. I guarantee it. This will be a massive hit for C. J. Tudor. Retro gold, wrapped up in a delicious creepy mystery! You won’t forget the chalk man, scrawled on pavements. Haunting you!

Totally recommended.


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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