“Want to read something good?. . . If you like my stuff, you’ll like this.”—Stephen King • WINNER OF THE ITW THRILLER AWARD • WINNER OF THE STRAND MAGAZINE AWARD FOR BEST DEBUT NOVEL
A riveting psychological suspense debut that weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry, and will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are on the verge of adolescence, spending their days biking in search of adventure. The chalk men are their secret code, stick figures they draw for one another as hidden messages. But one morning the friends find a chalk man leading them to the woods. They follow the message, only to find the dead body of a teenage girl.
In 2016, Eddie is nursing a drinking problem and trying to forget his past, until one day he gets a letter containing a chalk man—the same one he and his friends saw when they found the body. Soon he learns that all his old friends received the same note. When one of them is killed, Eddie realizes that saving himself means figuring out what happened all those years ago. But digging into the past proves more dangerous than he could have known. Because in this town, everyone has secrets, no one is innocent, and some will do anything to bury the truth.
Praise for The Chalk Man
“Wonderfully creepy—like a cold blade on the back of your neck.”—Lee Child
“An assured debut that alternates between 1986 and 2016 with unpredictable twists. The Chalk Man fits well with other stories about troubled childhoods such as Stephen King’s novella Stand by Me. . . . Tudor never misses a beat in showing each character as both a child and an adult while also exploring the foreboding environs of a small town.”—Associated Press
“Utterly hypnotic. The Chalk Man is a dream novel, a book of nightmares: haunted and haunting, shot through with shadow and light—a story to quicken the pulse and freeze the blood. A dark star is born.”—A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“If you can’t get enough of psychological thrillers with sharp twists and turns, you need to read The Chalk Man”—Hello Giggles
“I haven’t had a sleepless night due to a book for a long time. The Chalk Man changed that.”—Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow
|Publisher:||Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
C. J. Tudor is the author of The Hiding Place and The Chalk Man, which won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel and the Strand Magazine Award for Best Debut Novel. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, 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. She lives in England with her partner and daughter.
Read an Excerpt
The girl’s head rested on a small pile of orange-and-brown leaves.
Her almond eyes stared up at the canopy of sycamore, beech and oak, but they didn’t see the tentative fingers of sunlight that poked through the branches and sprinkled the woodland floor with gold. They didn’t blink as shiny black beetles scurried over their pupils. They didn’t see anything any more, except darkness.
A short distance away, a pale hand stretched out from its own small shroud of leaves as if searching for help, or reassurance that it was not alone. None was to be found. The rest of her body lay out of reach, hidden in other secluded spots around the woods.
Close by, a twig snapped, loud as a firecracker in the stillness, and a flurry of birds exploded out of the undergrowth. Someone approached.
They knelt down beside the unseeing girl. Their hands gently caressed her hair and stroked her cold cheek, fingers trembling with anticipation. Then they lifted up her head, dusted off a few leaves that clung to the ragged edges of her neck, and placed it care- fully in a bag, where it nestled among a few broken stubs of chalk.
After a moment’s consideration, they reached in and closed her eyes. Then they zipped the bag shut, stood up and carried it away.
Some hours later, police officers and the forensic team arrived. They numbered, photographed, examined and eventually took the girl's body to the morgue, where it lay for several weeks, as if awaiting completion.
It never came. There were extensive searches, questions and appeals but, despite the best efforts of all the detectives and al the town's men, her head was never found, and the girl in the woods was never put together again.
Start at the beginning.
The problem was, none of us ever agreed on the exact beginning. Was it when Fat Gav got the bucket of chalks for his birthday? Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures or when they started to appear on their own? Was it the terrible accident? Or when they found the first body?
Any number of beginnings. Any of them, I guess, you could call the start. But really, I think it all began on the day of the fair. That’s the day I remember most. Because of Waltzer Girl, obviously, but also because it was the day that everything stopped being normal.
If our world was a snow globe, it was the day some casual god came along, shook it hard and set it back down again. Even when the foam and flakes had settled, things weren’t the way they were before. Not exactly. They might have looked the same through the glass but, on the inside, everything was different.
That was also the day I first met Mr. Halloran, so, as beginnings go, I suppose it’s as good as any.