Bookshelf – The Chalk Man
Bookshelf – The Chalk Man. Debut Novel Keeps Readers Guessing. The most successful mystery writers keep their readers guessing, turning to the next page in suspense as the plot thickens. And C.J. Tudor does just that in her debut novel “The Chalk Man,” published earlier this year. The story is being told in the first person by Edward Addams, age 42, in the year 2016. Ed relates the tale of the gruesome murders that took place three decades earlier in the small English village where he lived. He and his clique — four other males and one girl — played no small part in the series of disturbing incidents, which probably began when one of them received an anonymous pail full of chalk as a birthday present. The group members divide the chalk pieces and begin using them to communicate with each other. Stick figures and signals, but never words, indicate where and when to meet.
He and his clique played
no small part
in the series of disturbing incidents.
Suddenly, new chalk figures begin to appear with messages leading to the nearby woods and directing them to the whereabouts of a young dismembered body. Then more chalk figures appear after that as well.
C.J. Tudor does a magnificent job engaging the reader with her quirky characters in their awkward world of being nearly a teenager. She intersperses chapters between “then” (1986) and “now” (2016) as the surviving adults try to deal with their memories of that horrendous summer and all that has occurred since. She also plants the seeds early on about the dilemma of complete honesty, regardless of the consequences, as opposed to secrecy or hiding parts of the truth, no matter how honorable the intentions.
Tudor succeeds in taking on a huge challenge as a female author writing in the voice of a male, no easy task. “The Chalk Man” is a well constructed, surprisingly impressive work for a first-time novelist that leaves its readers poised for C.J. Tudor’s next offering.