Cons: I was left with a few confusions
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man is a fascinating tale of a decades-old maybe-solved murder and a new danger. In 1986, a group of friends (Eddie, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky) had a hell of a year. Mickey’s older brother died in an accident. Nicky kept showing up with bruises on her. Eddie helped to save a girl hurt at the fair, and the new (albino) teacher, called the Chalk Man, who also saved her, fell in love with her. When Elisa (the severely injured girl) was found dead and cut into pieces, everyone assumed the Chalk Man, now considered a perv instead of a hero, must have done it. In 2016 someone sends the friends a piece of paper with a chalk hanged man on it, leaving everyone keyed up. Mickey comes back to town and wants to write about the whole experience, hoping Eddie will help him. Meanwhile Eddie, a klepto by nature, may have his hands on a clue or two that others aren’t familiar with.
There are one or two small questions I didn’t quite find the answers to. For example, the kids start using chalk signals in different colors to communicate with each other, but there are several occasions when white (a color not chosen by any of the kids) marks show up and cloud the issue. I didn’t quite figure out who left them in a couple of the cases.
There’s plenty of fascinating background material going on that gets swept up in the plot. Eddie’s mother performs abortions, and Nicky’s vicar father is the bane of her existence. Chloe, Eddie’s lodger in 2016, has some weird family stuff going on that may impact him. While the Chalk Man was an easy villain for the police to pin the blame on, Eddie isn’t convinced. Fat Gav’s family is better off than the others, creating some tension in the mix–complicated by the fact that in 2016 he’s a cripple, thanks to an accident when Mickey was driving impaired. There are a number of little mysteries bound up in the whole thing, and the worldbuilding, characters, and plot all swirl together beautifully. I found myself riveted to the pages the whole way through.
NOTE: Book supplied by Blogging for Books for this review