“We think we want answers. But what we really want are the right answers. Human nature. We ask questions that we hope will give us the truth we want to hear. The problem is, you can’t choose your truths. Truth has a habit of simply being the truth. The only real choice you have is whether to believe it or not.”
I found the storyline for this book incredibly twisted. It goes way beyond distasteful and into the desolate land where all the scariest monsters live in the dark. Even the plot twists spiral away, making this read uneasy and edgy (to say the least), there’s nothing to like or enjoy, only new nightmares to go to bed with and be afraid of.
Ed, the main character of this story, is a classic unreliable narrator. He has blanks in his memories, questionable morals and murky intentions. Although, you could read that description from me and think, well, that gives it away, he must have done killed the girl, but to be honest, the entire novel is full of complex characters. There is no singular, resolutely good person that the reader can attach to and rely on to tell the truth, but an entire array of shady characters with deeply declining depths of damage, everyone in the novel either has the motivation or the potential to be the very people society are afraid of.
Each chapter had strong, introspective beginnings, and achingly frustrating cliffhanger endings. The big reveal was squeezed into a measly chapter that had such a tense momentum built up to it that I feel that the author should have spent more time plugging those holes and tying those loose threads. Instead, she leaves it until the last moment to link up all the side stories and wraps it up in a gnarled, distorted box labelled ‘answers that give only some closure’.
There are some extremely sensitive themes that run concurrently to the main mystery. There are triggers of abortion, child grooming, peadophilia, and rape. I haven’t decided whether C.J. Tudor was trying to be profoundly aware and socially enlightening, or was gathering up all these controversies for their shock value.
I think that The Chalk Man was exceedingly well written, the mystery was a drawn out process that had me on the edge of my seat, and the debatable characters that flitted in and out of the story were magnetically secretive and ultimately, dislikable.