The Chalkman

CJ Tudor

This Stephen King-esque thriller was a true unexpected gem. I found it in a charity shop about a year ago and finally got around to reading it this year and I wasn’t disappointed.

The novel alternates between Ed as a 12 year old in 1986 and Ed as an adult in 2016 as present day Ed is forced to remember events of his childhood when mysterious drawings of chalk men once again start appearing.

The way in which Tudor balances the separate events and Ed’s reflections of the past is beautifully done, leaving you torn between wanting to find out what happened in 1986 and what’s about to happen in 2016. I particularly enjoy books which alternate chapters between characters or different points in time so this was one of the features which initially drew me to the book.

Although I would say that some of the reveals felt slightly anti-climactic, this certainly doesn’t detract from the constantly building sense of unease you feel as you read the book, particularly with regard to the 2016 narrative. Whilst you are always expecting something to happen in the 1986 chapters, and there are still moments where Tudor is able to surprise you, there is an element of ease about them because of the knowledge you gain from the 2016 chapters, whereas this same sense of ease cannot be found in the present day chapters.

Instead there is very much a sense of finally understanding what happened 30 years prior, whilst still being unable to predict what will happen next, filling the 2016 chapters with far more mystery, with one answer often leading you to another question.

However, I would say that the main drawback of the book for me was Ed’s lack of likeability, which I found to be particularly pronounced in the chapters featuring him as an adult. Unfortunately, after reading a certain amount of the book I started to find his character quite wearing as he predominantly came across as a self-pitying, mildly alcoholic middle-aged man.

Fortunately this in know way took away from the final shock twist of the book and I thoroughly recommend this book based on the ending alone.