Publication date: Jan 9, 2018 By Crown Publishing
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 one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
This classic storyline concept of childhood friends, a murder, lies and then unearthed secrets many years later started off fairly strong for me. I love the setting of the small town English village and the time frame of the late 1980s. The tidbits of nostalgia from the 80s were actually one of my favorite parts of the whole book.
The story is told in alternating timeframes, shifting back and forth from the kids’ childhoods in 1986 to 2016 when they’re all living very different lives. I have to say I found the present storyline more engaging than the past but overall I didn’t enjoy the alternating timeframes structure. I felt like just when I was immersed in the present and trying to build connections with the characters, the chapters would end abruptly leaving me feeling disconnected. I appreciate that the author was trying to build suspense with cliffhanger chapter endings and an abrupt time change but it left me feeling frustrated.
In terms of the characters, I found Eddie to be very odd and hard to connect with; in fact, I didn’t really connect with any characters which made it hard for me to care about what happened to them. I did find the pace to be steady and I didn’t have the mystery figured out but I also didn’t have a compelling urge to try all that hard to decipher the clues. When I reached the end my first thought was that the reveal was underwhelming and my next thought was that something that we find out about Eddie made no sense whatsoever. I absolutely know others are loving this mystery so take my review as just one opinion and try this for yourself, especially if you’re a fan of alternating timeframes and mysteries set in the 1980s.
Many thanks to Crown Publishing via Netgalley for my copy