Book Review: The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor

The Chalk Man

Book: The Chalk Man

Author: C. J. Tudor

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK

Pages: 337

The Chalk Man unfolds in two different timelines. Almost with mathematical precision 2016 (the present) alternates with 1986 (the past). Ed/Eddie tells us all in his good time. We find out about a body in the woods, media hype about it, memories and hidden facts. What happened? Who has done it? What was the motive? Yes, the normal things in a murder mystery. The police is of no use here in the present, and the police seems to have not been much use in the past either. Ed needs to solve/clear it up – with a little bit of help.

I bought this book with high expectations. The cover is actually good. It is even good when you get to hold it and can fondle the raised letters. The very full parade of chalk men all over the edges did ring a few warning bells. Though, believe or not, they did look good when I had read about 50 pages. But after that they became a bit gaudy. More warning bells might have been heralded by the many recommendations on the book itself. There was even a second cover so that the reader could convince her/himself that she/he had chosen well. Yes, over 20 stating The Chalk man is a compulsive read, gripping, completely engrossing, must read for horror-fans, utterly hypnotic… On Amazon I had already been led to think that I was into my most chilling read of this year.

So – I started with interest. I got to know the 12-year-old son Eddie and the 42-year-old teacher Ed. I got to know his family, his friends and his nearly-coastal small market town in southern England. I got to attend a pub, have a drink with him, go to a birthday party and even follow him to school on his summer vacation. With interest I savoured the scenes around the town thirty years apart. Indeed I was happily into the book.

But then it started irritating me. In fact I will now quote C. J. Tudor and maybe you will understand what I mean. This is how Ed puts it (p.289):

” When I was nine or ten, I was a big fan of Doctor Who. By the time I was twelve, it had gone really lame and crap. In fact, in my earnest twelve-year-old opinion, it all started to go downhill when Peter Davison regenerated into Colin Baker, who was never as cool, with his stupid multicoloured jacket and spotty cravat.

Anyway, up until then I had loved every episode, especially the ones with Daleks and the ones where they let the ending hang. A ‘cliffhanger’, it was called.

The thing was, the ‘cliffhanger’ was always better than the solution you waited eagerly for…”

Stars: 3/5



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