The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor is an intense mystery, part coming of age, part revelation of events children couldn't comprehend or piece together.
In 1986, Eddie and four friends used chalk drawings as a way of communicating. Each friend was different enough to attract incidents of bullying, and the drawings gave them an almost magical sense of secrecy and protection. One day, however, a chalk drawing leads the group to a gruesome discovery that taints their childhood and continues to affect them as adults. Who was responsible for that particular drawing; who led them to discover the body? Who is the Chalk Man?
Twenty years later, Eddie, the narrator, receives a letter containing a stick figure drawn in chalk. The past is not always past, to paraphrase Faulkner. The author moves back and forth in time, alternating between 1986 and 2016.
Everyone has secrets and when chalk figures appear again in 2016, the group of childhood friends, whose remaining attachments are largely a result of the events of that dreadful summer, find themselves nervous and uncertain. The reappearance of one of the old friends who wants to write a book about the events of that summer in 1896 sets in motion another calamity.
Intense and twisty, moving from past to present, The Chalk Man is imaginative and cleverly plotted. An impressive debut that kept me glued to the pages.
Read in Aug.; review scheduled for Jan. 12, 2018.
Mystery/Psychological. Jan. 9, 2018. Print length: 280 pages.