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"A haunting, tightly paced stunner of a debut, one that will keep you guessing all the way through."
I’ve always felt the best time of year to read murder mysteries is deep in the heart of winter, when the subject matter is as dark as the long nights. The Chalk Man is a brilliant addition for any winter reading list—its twists and turns will keep you on edge, with surprises coming on every page till the very last.
A group of friends who grew up together in a quaint English village are bound by...
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy 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 ...
The girl's head rested on a small pile of orange-and-brown leaves.
Her almond eyes stared up at the canopy of sycamore, beech and oak, but they didn't see the tentative fingers of sunlight that poked through the branches and sprinkled the woodland floor with gold. They didn't blink as shiny black beetles scurried over their pupils. They didn't see anything anymore, except darkness.
A short distance away, a pale hand stretched out from its own small shroud of leaves as if searching for help, or reassurance that it was not alone. None was to be found. The rest of her body lay out of reach, hidden in other secluded spots around the woods.
Close by, a twig snapped, loud as a firecracker in the stillness, and a flurry of birds exploded out of the undergrowth. Someone approached.
They knelt down beside the unseeing girl. Their hands gently caressed her hair and stroked her cold cheek, fingers trembling with anticipation. Then they lifted up her head, dusted off a few leaves that clung to the ragged edges of her neck, and placed it carefully in a bag, where it nestled among a few broken stubs of chalk.
After a moment's consideration, they reached in and closed her eyes. Then they zipped the bag shut, stood up and carried it away.
Some hours later, police officers and the forensic team arrived. They numbered, photographed, examined and eventually took the girl's body to the morgue, where it lay for several weeks, as if awaiting completion.
It never came. There were extensive searches, questions and appeals but, despite the best efforts of all the detectives and all the town's men, her head was never found, and the girl in the woods was never put together again.