Twelve year old Eddie and his mates are like any other group of kids; friends but with a healthy dollop of rivalry and leg-pulling thrown in. A much anticipated visit to the fairground is a chance for the friends to go out together without parents in tow, but the night ends badly and has a life-changing effect on them and Eddie in particular.
When one of the group receives a bucket of chalks for his birthday the kids begin to use what was at first regarded as a naff present to leave one another secret, coded messages. It’s a great game, but leads to a gruesome discovery in the woods and once again the children’s lives are touched by tragedy.
The story runs on two timelines, 1986 when the fairground incident occurred and present day when Eddie is forty two years old. The ramifications of what happened in 1986 have never been forgotten and when chalk figures begin to appear the past is brought back in a rush of memories and events that must be confronted.
There are a lot of twists in this book but, for me, rather than make it more of a page turner, that was its downfall. It’s a good book and an absolutely intriguing premise but in an effort to keep the reader guessing, the author, I think, introduced too many plot lines. The result, for me, was that it stretched my belief too far, particularly the very last twist which seemed to serve no purpose at all.
Having said that, there were some very good moments; when Eddie goes to see Mr Halloran for the last time, the results of his actions are clear and chilling.
I enjoyed The Chalk Man but, in this case, a slightly more simplified plot may have been more effective.