Recently, I came across a list of someone’s top ten or so thriller books. This is probably one of my favorite categories so I jotted down the whole list. My plan is to gradually chip away at all of them. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I found the original so I need to hang on to my handwritten copy!
Since snow was heading our way, I headed to the public library to find any of these possibilities. They only had about four titles from my list, and these were all checked out! I’m hoping this means they’re really good for when I finally get my hands on them. Instead, I used my Kindle to download The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. This one grabbed my attention most from all the teasers that I read.
This story has shades of the movies “I Know What you Did Last Summer” and “Stand By Me.” It centers mostly around a boy and his friends’ experience with discovering a dead girl’s body in the woods. But there is a lot more to it than this; there are sub plots that all relate in some way to the main event. The time frame switches back and forth between 1986 and 2016, and is told from the main character’s point of view throughout. The chalk men begin as messages/signals among the group of boys. The chalk men end up being used against them when it seems that someone else gets involved.
There are an abundance of odd characters in the story, making it a constant guessing game as to who might be guilty. Is it the new, albino teacher in town who always seems to be nearby when something intense occurs? Is it the zealot minister who appears to be physically abusive toward his own daughter (among other actions)? Is it his friend Mickey, who was already edgy, but seems to take a turn for the worse when his bully of a brother winds up dead too? Or maybe it’s the dad, who showed both aggressive and forgetful tendencies in the book?
A point is made several times throughout the end of the story: never assume. I won’t spoil it, but the intricacies are mostly all explained in the end. Some with simple explanations and others with more complexity. There were a few actions that I predicted and others that were more of a surprise.
Did this book keep me up at night (as another reviewer stated)? No. Was it a good story? Sure.