C.J. Tudor's debut novel The Chalk Man in my jammies on a snowy day during Christmas week. And while starting was not an issue, stopping was. I couldn't put the book down!!! Addictive, page turning and so very, very good.......
1986. Twelve year old Ed and his four friends have a great, way of communicating with each other. They chalk little stick figures at the end of their driveways and throughout their small village. It's a 'secret' way to communicate with each other. But when a set of chalk directions leads to a body, it's clear that someone else knows their secret.
2016. Ed still lives in the same house he grew up in, teaches at the school he attended and drinks a little too much. When a chalk man drawing arrives in his mailbox, he knows that the past is not finished with him......
Tudor's use of the past and present narrative in alternating chapters is soooo effective. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger or a lovely bit of foreshadowing. You know that don't go into the basement scene in movies? Yeah, like that. This and her plotting is what kept me tucked into my reading chair for the day. There's a mystery at the heart of the book - who is the killer? But, there's so much to the plot than just that question. Tudor provides lot of alternatives for the whodunit. There's a dark undertone running through the town. Everyone seems to have secrets.
"I knew it was wrong but, like I said, everyone has secrets, things they know they shouldn't do but do anyway. Mine was taking stuff - collecting things. The crappy thing was, it was only when I tried to take something back that I really screwed up."
Oh, does Tudor ever have that 'twisty, turny' plot thing nailed down! The narrative took lots of unexpected, unpredictable directions. "Never assume. Question everything. Always look beyond the obvious."
The Chalk Man was so 'readable'! I loved it! If you're a fan of Stranger Things, Stand By Me and suspense reads, you'll love The Chalk Man. This book is so darn good, it's hard to believe it's a debut - I can't wait to see what Tudor writes next! Read an excerpt of The Chalk Man. And, yes this is going to be one of my top reads for 2018!