Monday, March 12, 2018

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

"Which came first. The chalk men or the killing?"


Summer, 1986.  That's when it begins. With the arrival of Mr. Halloran, the new teacher in town, and 5 friends.
Eddie Munster was my nickname...Eddie Munster, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey (on account of the huge braces on his teeth), Hoppo (David Hopkins) and Nicky. That was our gang. Nicky didn't have a nickname because she was a girl...
Leaving coded chalk symbols for each other was just a game between Eddie and his friends. Until someone else started leaving drawings of white chalk men, drawings that eventually lead to the body of a murdered girl.
We all had our own colors of chalk. Fat Gav was red, Metal Mickey blue, Hoppo green, Nicky yellow and I was orange. None of our gang used white.
Alternating between 1986 and 2016, this novel feels more like a coming-of-age novel than a murder mystery, but it's the mystery that ties it all together. Eddie and his friends are only 12 when the secrets and deaths begin; 30 years later those secrets still haven't come to light. But someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago, and Eddie is finally ready to figure out who's behind it all... and why.
Maybe it's time to take a ride all the way back down good old memory lane. Except, this is not a sun-dappled stroll along a path of fond recollections. This particular route is dark, overgrown with tangled knots of lies and secrets...And along the way, there are chalk men.
I wouldn't necessarily classify this book as a scary, suspenseful thriller, but it is a very compelling read. Once I started, I did not want to put it down. I really like the way Tudor writes, and the mystery part of this book kept me guessing right up to the very end. There are a few parts that are kind of hard to read, like when young Eddie is getting bullied at the playground. There are also a lot of hard-to-like characters in this book; even Eddie has his issues at times. (I have to admit, I liked him and his friends best as kids.) But then, nothing about this book is easy and/or straightforward. I think that's what makes it such an interesting and memorable read.

Melody and I read this book together--another one of our buddy reads--and chatting with her about all of the twists and turns at the end of this book made it even better. So be sure to check out her review, as well as the two questions she asked me about this book when we were done.

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions and my answers:

Q. Chalk drawings seem to be the core subject in this story Do you think the story will have the same impact if it is set in the current times whereby the usage of whiteboard markers is more commonly used than chalk?
A.  Ooh...good question. Most kids today don't use chalk, do they? In fact, most kids don't spend hours everyday playing outside like Eddie and his friends did. Today they'd be posting emojis online for their friends to find, which would be a very different story...and would not have the same impact as the chalk men symbols these characters found everywhere.

Q. What do you think is the main draw of this book? C.J. Tudor's, writing, the characterizations, or the ending? And which character stands out the most for you?
A. For me, I think the main draw is Tudor's writing. She really knows how to tell a story and capture a reader's interest. I never got bored reading this book, and I really wanted to find out what happened next. I think the character that stood out the most to me is Eddie, probably because he narrates the story and we know the most about him, but a close second would be Eddie's lodger, Chloe, who has her own unexpected twist at the end that really caught me by surprise.

31 comments:

  1. Great review and I loved your answers, Lark! I really enjoyed reading this book; such a compelling read and it was fun comparing notes with you, too. :)

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    1. It was a good pick, Melody! Thanks for suggesting it. I had a lot of fun reading it...and especially being able to ask you what you thought of all those unexpected twists at the end! :D

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  2. Lark, I'm glad you liked this one. I did, too. I wasn't sure at first, but I got so caught up in it and wound up reading it straight through. I loved the flashbacks and trying to piece together what happened all those years ago and who was behind everything happening now. Such a good story!

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    1. You do get caught up in this story, don't you? It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I couldn't seem to put it down. And that ending! :D

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  3. I've seen mixed reviews on this book but I certainly want to read it at some point.

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    1. I think it's a book worth reading! I liked the premise and the writing and the tie-in with the past in 1986 when the main characters were just kids. It's good.

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  4. I enjoyed this one, too. Your comment about how unlikely this situation might be in today's world is interesting. Since kids spend so much less time outside today, they might never even discover the body!

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    1. That is so true. :) Personally, I think it's sad that kids are such indoor cats these days; my friends and I were outside ALL the time...which means WE would definitely have found that body. ;D

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  5. Very good review! I have a copy and want to read it soon. I like the way you and Melody asked each other questions to enhance both of your reviews. :-)

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    1. That was all Melody's idea! Isn't she smart?

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  6. I can do books with unlikable characters sometimes. I've seen such a mixed reaction regarding this book that I'm really interested in seeing how it works for me. I'm still waiting for my turn at Overdrive.

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    1. I didn't hate any of these characters...but they weren't easy to love either. You'll have to let me know what you think of them when you read this one!

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  7. Even if this one is more coming of age than mystery suspense I’m intrigued. And if it kept your interest more power to it. I like Melody’s question. You guys are right. Kids don’t really play with sidewalk chalk anymore. How sad.

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    1. It is sad, isn't it? And this book did keep my interest all the way through; it's a compelling mystery without being bite-your-nails suspenseful, if that makes sense.

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  8. I always enjoy your buddy reads posts! This is one I do want to read more than anything because of the setting. Love the 80s and I think it's more of a bit of a nostalgia trip.

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    1. It was kind of fun to revisit that era, however briefly. :)

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  9. Just skimmed your post...I have yet to read it! I am going to start it RIGHT NOW and come back after I am done!

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    1. Yes, please! I want to know what you think of this book! :D

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    2. Ok, I finished it! I thought it was OK. Very reminiscent of Stephen King and perhaps more horror inflected than I anticipated. I agree it was very much about the nostalgia of childhood than a whodunit.

      The plot was pretty complicated and I thought the author did a really good job of bringing it all together at the end!

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    3. Did you see that whole twist with Chloe coming? Because I didn't. I thought she was younger. So that surprised me. And then Eddie! What did you think about what he did as a kid? That really caught me by surprise. But I did like the way Tudor wrote this novel. :)

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    4. I did not anticipate the Chloe reveal! That was well done. I was on to Mike from the start, however. Just not sure how that drawing stayed dry in his pocket in the river??? But them's small potatoes.

      But as to the Eddie final reveal? That came more out of left field for me. The ring I understood. The body part? Not so much!

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    5. Yeah, I thought that was kind of creepy. :)

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  10. This sounds like a great book. I wish I wasn't such a wimp about thrillers because there have been so many coming out lately that sound great. But I'm not good with suspense. I find it too stressful.

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    1. Hey, the last thing you need to feel when you're reading a book is stress. Life is stressful enough without adding in that. :D

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  11. Thanks Lark for recommending this book, I haven't read as much mystery suspence as I would like and Chalk Man sounds good. I like stories where childhood friends are brought together years later when an incident from their childhood rises to the surface.

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    1. I liked the juxtaposition of the characters as kids and adults in this book. :)

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  12. I've heard good things about this one. Glad you enjoyed it and that it kept you guessing. I hate mystery/suspense novels that are too predictable!

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    1. Yeah, they're no fun when you know who did it in chapter 3! ;D

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  13. I enjoyed your review. This book looks intriguing. I'm adding this title to my list!

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