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Shadow Man by Margaret Kirk @HighlandWriter @Orion_Crime

 

Source: Review Copy

Publication: 2 Nov 2017 from Orion

Two sisters

Just before her wedding day, Morven Murray, queen of daytime TV, is found murdered. All eyes are on her sister Anna, who was heard arguing with her hours before she was killed.

Two murders

On the other side of Inverness, police informant Kevin Ramsay is killed in a gangland-style execution. But what exactly did he know?

One killer?

As ex-Met Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler digs deeper into both cases, he discovers that Morven’s life was closer to the Inverness underworld than anyone imagined. Caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, is Lukas hunting one killer, or two?

Oh, I do like it when I discover a new series of detective fiction/police procedurals set in Scotland. This one is set in the city of Inverness and it’s good to see the Highland town represented as it is, a splendid, modern city set within  fabulous surroundings. Though the book is set in the Highlands, the opening sequence takes place in Glasgow where a young woman, Janis Miller, falls from a balcony to her death at a student party. How this relates to the crimes that follow is for our detective to discover.

Inspector Lukas Mahler is an interesting protagonist. Lukas has just returned from working in the Met in London in order to look after his mentally unstable mother whose health is not good. He arrives back in Inverness fresh from attending the funeral of Raj, a fellow policeman and a friend, so between that and being the only one available to care for his mother, it is perhaps not surprising that he’s just a wee bit grumpy.

The relationship between him and his mother, whilst clearly loving, also clearly has quite a backstory and I was intrigued to know much more of that story than this first book reveals. What is clear though is that Lukas is a loner who carries some fears and guilt with him, so he has his own troubles to bear.

No sooner has he landed in Inverness than his boss puts him in charge of not one, but two murder enquiries. Police informant Kevin Ramsey has been deliberately run over and well known TV presenter, Morven Murray, has been savagely murdered a hotel on the eve of her wedding. Anna Murray, Morven’s sister has just arrived from San Diego, where she works as a historian.

Lukas is somewhat resented by his team after being ‘parachuted in’ to the head up the murders and is soon running himself into the ground looking for motives as the tabloids make hay with the ‘death of a daytime glamour queen’ headlines.

Anna and Lukas have more in common than they at first realise and there’s a spark there that certainly has the scope to develop further. I loved, too, DS Ian Fergie, a man whose car you can smell coming off the pages, filled as it is with debris from various fast food outlets. Scruffy, disorganised and dishevelled, Fergie is the opposite of Lukas, but somehow the pair work well together.

As another man goes missing and is then found murdered, Lukas is torn between seeing to his mother’s needs and trying to spend all the time he can tracking down the culprit(s).

Margaret Kirk writes very well and this book flows nicely. Her concentration on character and relationships pays off in spades as we warm to her likeable characters and want to know more and her descriptions are vivid and authentic.

The plot dances off in different directions so that, like Lukas, you feel you are chasing shadows until the final denouement arrives.

A really strong debut novel from a writer I will want to hear more from.

 

Amazon                                          Waterstones

 

About Margaret Kirk

margaret kirk

Margaret Morton Kirk is a writer living and working in her home town of Inverness. She has written a number of short stories, one of which, ‘Still Life’, was runner-up in the ‘Bloody Scotland’ short story competition in 2015.  It was later adapted for radio and broadcast on Radio 4 as part of its ‘Scottish Shorts’ series.

‘The Seal Singers’, a semi-mythic tale set in Orkney, won third prize in the 2016 Mslexia short story competition.  And ‘Coming Home’, a chilling insight into one family’s fragmented past, was published in the Tales from Elsewhere anthology.

Shadow Man is her debut novel.

You can follow Margaret on twitter @HighlandWriter

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The Night Market by Jonathan Moore @JonMooreFiction @Orion_Crime @HMHbooks

 

Source: Netgalley

Publication: 11 January from Orion/ 16 Jan Harcourt Mifflin Harcourt

Do you ever think there’s maybe something that’s gone wrong with the world?’

A man is found dead in one of the city’s luxury homes. Homicide detective Ross Carver arrives at the scene when six FBI agents burst in and forcibly remove him from the premises.

Two days later…

Carver wakes in his bed to find Mia a neighbour he’s hardly ever spoken to, reading aloud to him. He has no recollection of the crime scene, no memory of how he got home, and no idea that two days have passed.

Carver knows nothing about this woman but as he struggles to piece together what happened to him, he soon realizes he’s involved himself in a web of conspiracy that spans the nation.

And Mia just might know more than she’s letting on…

 

The Night Market is the third in Jonathan Moore’s San Francisco trilogy.  The first, The Poison Artist was a novel with the atmosphere of a 1930’s Hollywood film noir. Dark and suspenseful, it is richly atmospheric and the writing seductively draws you in to the tale. The second, The Dark Room, was a a dark tale of murder, privilege and unspeakable cruelty, told in rich and compelling prose.

Now the last part of the trilogy is a similarly dark, and this time, dystopian tale. The Night Market is a crime thriller, set in the not too distant future and lays out a plausible and very chilling future where our wants and desires are not just fuelled by advertising but positively driven by it.

The three books are loosely connected and it doesn’t matter which order you read them in. Each has a distinctive style and each a different look at San Francisco.

I grabbed this book from Netgalley as soon as I saw it because Jonathan Moore’s writing is so noir it positively oozes black treacle.  His San Francisco is redolent with atmosphere, has beautiful prose and cleverly weaves a plot that will take you places you simply did not expect to go. But when you get there, boy are you glad you did!

Ross Carver and his partner Jenner attend a murder scene in one of the city’s few remaining luxury homes. The dead body is like nothing they have ever seen before. It is covered in a slimy grey substance that seems to be eating the body from within. Before they have a chance to investigate the FBI turns up clad in biohazard suits and they are ordered out of the building and into a mobile decontamination unit. Carver wakes up three days later at home in bed with no memory of at all of that night’s events. Mia, a neighbour, is sitting reading to him and has been caring for him. Mia is an elusive figure who seldom goes out and has no technology in her apartment, but she does appear to have Ross’s welfare at heart.

As Carver attempts to piece together the events of that Thursday night he will draw his partner, his neighbour Mia and others into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that impacts on the lives of everyone in San Francisco and beyond.

Moore’s tale is a savage one where the divide between the rich and poor is more stark than at any time. Copper wiring is stripped from street lights by scavengers hoping to make a few dollars and leading to the streets becoming even more dangerous. Fights break out in designer boutiques over transient luxury goods.

The Night Market is a tale about consumerism gone wild; about how technology can be harnessed for disturbing purposes and how, if we are not careful, our addiction to our devices will soon have our devices driving our desires. This dystopian future is not today, but it could so easily be tomorrow and that’s what makes it so frightening.

For Carver, the archetypal homicide detective, this is a world he doesn’t quite recognise, but will quickly have to find out about as even his own police force is being controlled by those who would control not just the city but the country.

The Night Market is a fabulous addition to the triptych and Jonathan Moore’s writing is so good and so vibrant that you feel as if you have had a bath in warm chocolate after you have read it.

I thoroughly recommend each of these books, though I think, in the end, the Night Market may be my favourite.

About Jonathan Moore

jonathan-moore

Jonathan is an attorney with the Honolulu firm of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda. Before completing law school in New Orleans, he was an English teacher, the owner of Taiwan’s first Mexican restaurant, and an investigator for a criminal defence attorney in Washington D.C. He is the author of two previous novels, Close Reach and Redheads, which was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award.

Find out more at jonathanmoorefiction.com and follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonMooreFiction

Head Case (A Tom Mondrian Story) by Ross Armstrong @Rarmstrongbooks @HQstories #Headcase #BookReview

 

Tom Mondrian is the last person you want on your case. And the only one who can solve it, in this quirky psychological thriller.

Tom Mondrian is watching his life ebb away directing traffic as a PCSO, until a bullet to the brain changes everything. With a new unusual perspective, including an inability to recognise faces and absolutely no filter between what he thinks and what he says, Tom’s career is suddenly shifting gear.

Tom’s new condition gives him an advantage over other police officers, allowing him to notice details that they can’t see. Now, with his new insight and unwavering determination, Tom is intent on saving three missing girls, before more start to disappear…

Source: Review copy

Publication: 11 January 2018 from HQ

Every now and then you come across a crime book that looks at life from a different angle. Head Case is one such book. I should say at the outset that it does require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, but if you can overcome that (and it isn’t hard) then what you have is a nice mixture of light and shade, a character with a sense of humour and a refreshing take on police procedurals.

Tom Mondrian, is a Police community support officer in Tottenham, London. He’s been living in the same house, in the same place all his life. An uneventful existence has been disrupted by the fact that his partner Anita has just left him for the Geography teacher at her school with whom she has been having an affair.

He is musing on this loss as he directs traffic on a freezing cold morning, nodding to those drivers he recognises, spotting the kids hanging about the street. Suddenly he feels very sick, there are flashing noises in his head and he is falling to the ground. He tries to call out, but the words that come out make no sense.

Because Tom Mondrian has been shot in the head. When he comes to,  two days later, he is a changed man. The bullet has fragmented into three pieces, which remain lodged in his brain and deemed inoperable by surgeons. Though it poses no real danger to him, it will of course have a profound effect on his speech; his brain can’t yet transmit coherent speech to his mouth and he has completely lost his ability to recognise faces.

As he recuperates, he discovers that along with what he has lost, which turns out to include any sense of social niceties – he is now the plainest of plain speakers, blurting things out as he thinks of them – he has gained some interesting attributes. He sees things that others miss, as a result of his new found ability to acutely discern smells and his brain associates these with colours. He can see patterns where others simply can’t.

Inevitably, in this age of police PC correctness, Tom is welcomed back into his PCSO role and teamed with a new partner, Emre – a Turk. Tom’s superiors want to make the most of welcoming an injured man back into their midst, more to highlight the PR of inclusiveness to someone with a disability, rather than because of any sense of obligation.

And so the force’s idea is that Tom and Emre will do the PR/social side of policing; the school talk, the community policing PR initiatives, rather than any more serious work.

But that’s not what Tom wants. His new sense of self is such that he really wants to go out and get the bad guys and he drags along the long suffering Emre with him. It’s really an excellent partnership as Emre is calm and focussed and not a natural rule breaker. But Tom is now impulsive and driven and Emre can’t help but see that Tom could be on to something, if they can just pursue the clues without being found out by their superiors.

What makes this book work is this partnership. A really good pairing of opposites who despite themselves can’t help liking each other. Together they delve into the case, purloining evidence others have overlooked, trying to put it back without being caught and generally creating a certain amount of havoc as they go about their business.

I enjoyed the both this relationship and the nicely ironic sense of humour that pervades the book. There are some genuinely laugh out loud moments as well as an overall sense that this is a book which does not take its characters too seriously.

For its characters and its difference, this is a book I enjoyed. I will look out for what I hope will be the next in this new series.

Amazon                            Waterstones

 

About Ross Armstrong

rossarmstrong

Ross Armstrong is an actor and writer based in North London. He studied English Literature at Warwick University and acting at RADA. He’s performed on stage with the RSC in shows such as Oppenheimer in the West End and with the Donmar in Hamlet on Broadway, as well as numerous TV appearances including Foyles War, Jonathan Creek, Mr Selfridge, DCI Banks and the upcoming series of Ripper Street. His first novel, The Watcher, was published at the end of 2016.

You can follow Ross on twitter @Rarmstrongbooks

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch @emilykoch @HarvillSecker

 

Source: Netgalley

Publication: 11 January 2018 by Harvill Secker

 

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

 

Alex is in a coma, in a vegetative state, living only through liquid nourishment fed through a tube and a breathing tube in his trachea. At least, he *was* in a coma, now his brain function is pretty fully restored, except that he can’t get his brain to transmit commands to any part of his body, so he is powerless to let anyone else know that he can hear, feel and understand – and sometimes even see, though shapes tend to be dim. But his sense of smell is working just fine and he is able to identify visitors to his room through the sounds they make and the way they smell.

Alex then, has locked in syndrome. Not an especially new thing for a crime book, I have read others, but I must say that this one is done very well indeed.

Everything we know, we know from Alex or from the things his visitors say to him when they come to the hospital. We are fortunate, then that Alex used to be a journalist with the Bristol Post, and even now, after 2 years in a hospital bed, he still orders his thoughts as if he were writing a story for the paper.

He was injured in a rock climbing fall, though he doesn’t really remember much at all about the accident. His mind struggles to piece together events in his life and we understand his story through his recollections of memories and from flashbacks as well as what he hears from those who visit. Sometimes the visitors are talking to him; sometimes they talk to each other, or themselves.

It’s quite a sobering thought, listening to Alex describe his care regime and the different attitudes of his doctors, caregivers and even the local cleaner, and how they treat him when they believe he has no awareness and (wrongly) believe that he can feel no pain. I thought this was an especially strong element to the book and something that could have been dull was vividly brought to life here by Emily Koch in an original and quite startling way.

The central characters in Alex’ life and his regular bedside visitors are his father, his sister Philippa, his live in partner Bea and her parents, and their friends Rosie, Tom and Eleanor.

Bea has stuck by him all this time, despite the fact that she and Alex have had ups and downs in their relationship, but Alex is aware that with no signs of improvement it will soon be time for them to seriously consider withdrawing from treating him if he gets another serious infection, and in his head he is reconciled to that fate, thinking it is only right that Bea should be allowed to live a full life.

Except that it becomes clear that not everything is as he thought it was. Perhaps his accident was no accident at all. He learns that the police are re-investigating; apparently there is ‘new information’.

At the same time Bea is feeling stressed and receiving hang up calls. Sometimes she thinks she is being followed. Alex is determined to try and break through his condition so that he can look out for Bea and piece together every scrap of information he can garner to make sense of what is going on.

There’s a striking counterpoint between what has happened to Alex and the consideration of his treatment or otherwise, and the fact that Alex’s mother died of cancer and that Alex was the one his mother trusted to make sure the family understood that she did not want to undergo further treatment. This gives more depth to the story and the characterisation and allows the reader to feel an emotional pull that is stronger than I expected.

There is a hefty tension throughout the book but alleviated by lighter moments as the plot twists and turns towards a very striking denouement.

Koch pulls the story together very well and manages to keep the reader interested and engaged right up to the end. I liked this a lot more than I thought I might, and that is because the writing really delivers on this format.

Bravo, Ms Koch, you nailed it. A stunning debut.

Amazon                                           Waterstones

 

About Emily Koch

©Barbara Evripidou2015; m: 07879443963; barbara@firstavenuephotography.com

Emily is an author and journalist living in Bristol, UK. Her debut novel If I Die Before I Wake is published in January 2018 by Harvill Secker

Working with writer Alison Powell she is also a founding member of WriteClub – which runs regular creative writing events in Bristol.

Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan @SVaughanAuthor @JessBarratt88 @SimonSchusterpr #AnatomyofAScandal #review

 

Source: Netgalley

Publication: Simon & Schuster UK on 11 Jan. 2018

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

Confession time. I have had this book on my TBR pile for quite a while and was aware that it was getting some serious plaudits from my colleague reviewers and others. But nothing prepared me for how much I was going to love this book.

It has everything I look for in a book. Sarah Vaughan is an author who knows her subjects and can write convincingly and authentically – in this case about Oxford University life, Westminster politics and criminal law. Characters you can put a face to and in some cases identify with, and in other cases can quite understand how they came to take the stances that they do. The author is careful to stress that this is a work of fiction throughout, but there are times when you just can’t help but put faces against some of the characters here, you feel that you know them so well.

This is a story of privilege and the elite and of what happens when they meet justice head on.

James Whitehouse is a junior Minister in the Home Office and as a close confidant of the Prime Minister, he is tipped for high office. His wife, Sophie, whom he met at University, is the backbone of his political career; supporting him, looking after their two children, attending political functions and generally ensuring that he can cruise through life unhampered by domestic concerns.

More than that, though, she loves him and always has. Theirs is a healthy relationship and she feels blessed to be in this marriage.

Kate Woodcroft Q.C. is a successful barrister. Ambitious and driven, she mainly prosecutes sexual crimes, wanting to be seen to be on the side of truth and the underdog. She’s hoping to be one of the youngest barristers to be offered a judgeship, and coming out of an unsuccessful case – one of the few she has lost recently, she feels certain that she has been handed the case that could make her career, and she is convinced that James is guilty.

For James Whitehouse, this may not be the hardest test he has faced, but it is certainly the most public. For James has to come home and tell Sophie that he has been having an affair with his Parliamentary researcher, Olivia and that the story is about to break in the UK’s most popular and most pernicious tabloid.

To make matters worse, in less than a fortnight, James finds himself charged with rape, following a brief resumption of sexual activity between him and Olivia on one occasion following his unceremonious dumping of her as his lover.

As you might expect, the legal case hinges on the issues of consent, but it is also about the lies we tell ourselves, the battle between the privileged and the not so privileged, and about how to win an argument, irrespective of the truth.

For Sophie, it is also about how well she knows her husband and by extension, how well she knows herself, as her life is slowly ripped apart under the heavy scrutiny of the press and the pressure from Government aides.

Anatomy of a Scandal is a brilliantly written, well plotted and incredibly good book. I was completely absorbed by it, never less than gripped and I want to shout from the rooftops how good I think it is.

Amazon                                           Waterstones

 

About Sarah Vaughan

SV

Sarah is a novelist and journalist who has always wanted to write fiction. Her first novel, The Art of Baking Blind, was published in 2014 by Hodder, and nine other countries. The Farm at the Edge of the World, followed in 2016, and in 2017 became a bestseller in France. After Anatomy of a Scandal, she is now completing another novel in a similar vein – exploring what happens when women’s lives are touched by darkness or crime.

Before writing novels, she was a journalist, writing under the byline Sarah Hall. After journalism college and work at The Times, she trained with the Press Association and spent 11 years on The Guardian as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent. She left after having her second baby and began to freelance.

Long before that, she read English at Brasenose College, Oxford. Reading Beowulf may not have helped her become a novelist but reading and thinking about writing for three years undoubtedly did. She now lives just outside Cambridge with her husband, two young children, geriatric cat and puppy. When she is not writing, she loves to walk, run, read.


Hydra by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #Hydra #SixStories

 

Source: Review Copy

Publication: January 15th 2018 from Orenda Books

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west
of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother,
father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked
attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’.

Now incarcerated at a
medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one
but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’
podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case,
interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether
Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal
team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust
into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the
mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far
beyond the delusions of a murderess…

 

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…

Ghost and horror stories are a classic form of storytelling and in Hydra Matt Wesolowski has taken a classic idea and delivered it in a contemporary format.

I finished this book before Christmas, but I wanted to let its impact settle on me before I started my review. Impact is such a slight word, really, for the force I felt as I read it. Because Hydra is a book that gets to the very root of fear, faces it and leaves you gasping.

Told, as with his previous book, Six Stories, in the form of six podcasts hosted by elusive online presenter Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, King interviews Arla Macleod herself and five other people who are connected to Arla and her story.

Scott King is our podcast narrator, non – judgemental, factual interpreter, explorer of events, truth seeker. In this six episode podcast, Scott examines the cold case of Arla McLeod, a socially isolated young girl who was an outcast even in her own family. At the start of the podcast Arla is serving a life sentence incarcerated in a mental institution following her conviction for the murder of her mother, step father and sister each of whom she battered to death with a claw hammer.

There is a coldness to the writing that sends chills through you as you read. I don’t know if you have ever had nightmares, but there’s one I had as a young child with scarlet fever that stays with me to this day, over 50 years later.  Hydra is like that – think your worst nightmare meets M.R.James’ Lost Hearts and you’ll be close.

Through interviews with Arla and some of the people who knew her or spent time with her, the listener is able to piece together a picture of Arla and her life and to try and understand what happened to in the lead up to the massacre of her family, something she has never denied responsibility for. Of course, not every one of these interviewees is a wholly reliable witness, and the reader has to puzzle their way through the information to try and work out just what has happened.

As we meet each of the interviewees, we learn a little more and we begin to understand that there are forces at work here which are more than simply horror inspired. Each interviewee offers a different perspective, suggests new information or opens up another avenue of enquiry.

Whether Arla was mentally unstable and if so, what caused that instability is one route. But each witness offers a seemingly authentic and convincing account of their role in Arla’s life and the events leading up to the massacre. The reader is led into a world of the supernatural with Japanese death games; social media trolling, and Arla’s mysterious black-eyed children.

Just like the Hydra of Greek legend, there are many heads to this monster and as one is shut down, another can easily rear up to take its place.

Wesolowski has created a format in which the sheer force of the voices of these six unvarnished interviews is the key to the tension, atmosphere and unbridled horror and darkness.  No sooner has Scott started recording his interviews than he begins to receive text threats threats telling him to desist, and the more he persists, the more he wonders whether there is more to Arla’s story than he realises.

Dark, compact, but suffused with malign intent, mental instability and dark and malicious events, Hydra is a book to mess with your mind while it suspends  your heartbeats.

The structure is straightforward and very compelling, but best of all it lends itself very well to the controlled, creative writing at which Wesolowski excels.

Hydra is a brilliant, dazzlingly accomplished book which has shot straight to the top of my 5 star, highly recommended list.

Orenda Books                  Amazon                   Waterstones

About the Author

mattwesolowski

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK.He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New WritingNorth. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller Six Stories was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.

Follow the blogtour here :

Hydra blog poster 2018(1)

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks #TheChalkMan

 

 

We all have fears we hide from. But in the end they will find us . . .

The Chalk Man is coming . . .

None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.

Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?

Was it the terrible accident?

Or when they found the first body?

Source: Review copy

Publication: 11th January 2018 by Michael Joseph

It is 1986 and Eddie Adams is 12 years old when he first experiences the tragic event that will haunt him and his friends throughout their lives.

Eddie, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky are friends in the English town of Anderbury. They have the hopes and fears of all youngsters of that age and they have never been so excited as when they are allowed to go to the town fair by themselves.

As Eddie stands by the Waltzers, admiring a strikingly beautiful girl with red hair, the air  is suddenly rent with screams and blood spray  – as a part of a fairground ride breaks loose and smashes into Elisa, the girl Eddie was admiring – right in front of him. Eddie and a new teacher at the school, Mr Halloran, try and stem the worst of the bleeding from Elisa’s severed leg as Eddie fights hard not to look at Elisa’s heavily disfigured and bloody face.

Told in a dual timeline in alternating chapters between 1986 and 2016, The Chalk Man is in part a rites of passage story and in part a psychological thriller.

C.J. Tudor offers a well painted picture of 12 year old Eddie and his friends, and it is easy to understand how, through the alternating timeline chapters, the young Eddie morphs from being a strange little boy to being a teacher, living alone (except for his lodger) without any close attachments.

The narrative is very well told and the reader’s interest is extremely well held throughout the book as more and more plot points are added in and bodies begin to surface in the small town with increasing alacrity. There’s darkness at the heart of this story and it creeps and seeps into every corner of the reader’s mind.

From the pretty gruesome opening prologue to the sometimes quite graphic descriptions of violence, this is a book that does not shy away from tackling some quite difficult subjects, but the richness of the book lies in the way that the events of 1986 are shown to stick and reverberate some 40 years later, using Eddie’s voice as the coherent storyteller through that period.

I did enjoy it very much and found it to be an extremely accomplished book, especially given that it is a debut novel – I’d never have guessed that because the writing is so strong.

Where I did have a bit of an issue was with the way in which the various plot strands were tied together. In the end, for me, it all felt just a bit too rushed; a touch implausible and over dramatised.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely look for more from this author.

Amazon                                           Waterstones

 

About C.J.Tudor

cjtudor

C.J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

 

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