The Chalk Man

Crown. Jan. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781524760984. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524761004. F
DEBUT A band of preteens in a quaint English village in the late 1980s confront true evil and grapple with the lifelong consequences in this gripping debut mystery/thriller. Eddie and his sometimes-buddies/sometimes frenemies Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky, spend a summer hanging out at the playground, inventing a message system using sidewalk chalk, and avoiding the psychopathic attentions of Metal Mickey's violent older brother and his gang. They bear witness to a horrific accident, observe the ongoing battle between prolife protestors and the doctors and clinicians who run a local Planned Parenthood-type facility (headed by Eddie's no-nonsense mother), and, finally, are led—via ominous chalk drawings—to the remains of a gruesome murder scene. Fast-forward to 2016, when Eddie, still living in his hometown, gets mired in his grim past again. In addition to the core murder mystery, Tudor plays with themes of aging, memory, and paranoia. While the ending is a bit melodramatic and unlikely, readers who relish dark, twisty thrillers will be kept guessing.
VERDICT Taut plotting, smooth writing, and a compelling premise will satisfy fans of Jo Nesbø, Camilla Läckberg, and Tana French. [See Prepub Alert, 7/24/17.]
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