Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
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.
The Chalk Man is a disappointing mystery that hardly focuses on the murder. Instead, it’s a novel about the main character’s life as a memoir.
The Chalk Man is told through two differing time periods from the same character’s point of view. Each chapter oscillates between 1986 and 2016 and functions to slowly unravel the murder that happened in the past and the mystery of the present. The idea driving the novel is an interesting one with potential to create an immersive thriller, however The Chalk Man is a slowly paced novel that focuses heavily on the main character’s boring life rather than the exciting mystery happening in the background.
The focus of this novel is not a murder or unraveling the mystery surrounding the murder. Instead, The Chalk Man is the mundane life and musings of the main character as he recounts his life in a memoir. The only remotely interesting thing about the main character’s life is that a murder happened when he was younger and his mother was harassed for providing abortion services. There is so much boring and useless tangents about things not remotely connected to the story that by page 150 the reader still doesn’t know the identity of the murder victim.
The main character is as lackluster as they come. There is nothing exciting or intriguing about him and, unfortunately, this also translates to the other characters since the reader is experiencing the story through the main character’s perspective. This created a detachment between myself and the characters and the story as a whole. So, when the big twist is revealed I felt almost nothing other than relief at finally being finished with the novel and disappointment that such an interesting idea was executed so poorly.
Overall, The Chalk Man has an interesting premise but fails to deliver in everyway possible.