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

Twisty and expertly plotted, The Chalk Man is a terrific, character-driven, psychological suspense debut recommended to be at the top of your 2018 reading list. The Chalk Man is an enthralling, sometimes emotionally wrenching, yet lovingly told story by a shining new talent in the crime writing world!

Violence: Moderate

Profanity: Mild-to-Moderate

Sexual Content: Mild-to-Moderate

Explicit Language: Mild-to-Moderate

Animal Cruelty: Mild

Thrilling Action: Moderate

Red Herrings: Moderate

Twists and Turns: Moderate

Suspense: Moderate

Plot Development: Moderate-to-High

Character Development: Moderate-to-High

Pages: 280 (US Hardcover)

The Chalk Man

Publisher's Blurb:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he's put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank... until one of them turns up dead. That's when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who enjoy crime fiction that contains action and suspense within the very first chapter. There is a masterful ebb and flow of characterization, and suspenseful action throughout the novel.

  • Who enjoy, or don't mind, crime fiction that takes place over more than one timeline. If you are a reader who sometimes finds books that switch back and forth between timelines confusing, you need not be concerned about that with The Chalk Man. Nearly all of the chapters are very clearly titled "1986" (when the main character is 12 years old), or "2016".

  • Who appreciate crime fiction that addresses social issues. The Chalk Man has subplots regarding topics just as passionately debated today, as they were in 1986.

  • Who enjoy some supernatural, and horror elements in their crime fiction. Some of the imagery and descriptions in the book are very reminiscent of the horror genre, and the "creep factor" gradually ratchets up as the book progresses. Please note: there is a fairly brief scene of sexual assault in the novel.

  • Who enjoy crime and mystery fiction with unreliable narrators.

  • Who enjoy nostalgia for childhood, and coming-of-age themes in their reading materials, a la Stephen King's novella, The Body (otherwise known as the film adaptation, Stand by Me).

MINM Overall Rating: 4.75/5

Does The Chalk Man sound interesting to you? If so, what about it sounds appealing?

Mystery in Minutes would love to hear from you!