Chalk Man
by Tudor, C. J.






"Narrated by 'Eddie' who receives a chalk drawing of a stick figure that hurtles him back to an innocent childhood game 30 years before which went terribly, terribly wrong. As history begins to repeat itself, it seems the game was never really over" -





C. 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 Man is her first novel.





Childhood pals Eddie, Fat Gav, Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky started the summer of 1986 gleefully covering their English village of Anderbury with chalk stick-figure codes. But their game turned dark when they found chalk figures pointing to the drowned body of Mickey's brother and, later, the body of a teenage girl. Police zeroed in on Mr. Halloran, a popular teacher whose scandalous relationship with the murdered girl was recently outed. Despite a lack of evidence, Halloran's guilt was cemented in the public eye after the teacher committed suicide. The town moved on, relieved. Now, more than 30 years later, Mickey returns to Anderbury, courting Eddie to collaborate on a documentary about the deadly summer. The day after their meeting, Eddie discovers chalk figures covering his hearth, and Mickey's body is found near the spot where his brother died. As police eye Eddie as the last person who saw Mickey alive, he learns that his lodger and only friend, Chloe, has been hiding devastating secrets. An absorbing debut with a well-crafted mystery and a solid dose of Stand by Me creepiness. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.





Murder, mayhem, and chalk figures in a sleepy English village.In 1986, 12-year-old Eddie Adams enjoys spending time with his group of friends: Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and the lone girl in the group, Nicky. He's largely insulated from his mother's work as an abortion provider and its accompanying risks, and it's her income that keeps the household afloat, since his father's freelance writing jobs are hit and miss. When Eddie finds the decapitated and dismembered body of a local girl in the woods, it stirs up terrible secrets and forbidden passions. In 2016, Eddie is a teacher who harbors a mild crush for his much younger boarder, Chloe, and isn't eager to revisit the traumatic events of '86. He still feels particularly bad about his part in the downfall of a teacher with albinism who was kind to him. When he's contacted by Mickey Cooper, who claims he knows who really killed that girl, it opens old wounds, and a body count follows. Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT. The dynamics among the kids are similar, complete with Nicky's flaming red hair, and Eddie's first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. The chalk markings the group works out to communicate tap into kids' universal love for secret code and, of course, getting one over on their parents. Things takes a creepy turn when the symbols are twisted to fit someone's not-so-innocent agenda. A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





Prologue 


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. 


Chapter 1
2016

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.






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