The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor, Crown, US $27.00, Pp 288, January 2018, ISBN 978-1524760984
In 2016, Eddie is in his early forties and thinks his past is behind him. But, one fine morning, he receives a package in the mail which contains a single chalk figure. He realizes his past is following him like his shadow. He is reminded of events in 1986 when he and his friends were just kids and spent most of their days biking around their sleepy English village. As kids, they always looked for excitement. They used the secret code of chalk men to communicate with one another. They used to leave little chalk stick figures for one another as messages only they could understand. One day, a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a decomposed body that changed everything for them. The day he receives a package in the mail which contains a single chalk figure. It turns out that his friends also got similar letters. They initially think it is a prank. But it was not a prank as one of them dies soon. Eddie knows that he can save himself and possibly his other friends only by knowing what really happened all those years.
The Chalk Man is a childhood story gone dangerously wrong, with a fantastic set of characters. It is about troubled childhood. It explores the dark side of childhood. C. J. Tudor is not a politically correct writer. Most of us tend to believe that children are innocent by nature; she does not seem to subscribe to this popular notion. In an interview, she said, “[kids] can also be incredibly cruel and sadistic. We’re not born with a moral compass. Most people will remember one bully at school who scared the crap out of them or a strange friend who delighted in ripping the legs off grasshoppers! I wanted to get across that we’re all capable of good and bad.” You will tremendously enjoy it if you like to read serious psychological novels. It is a rare stay-up-all-night story about childhood.
J. Tudor lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Manis her first novel.