The first book I picked up this year was The Chalk Man . It looks like C J Tudor used several elements from the Stephen King ‘ s books and fleshed out her narrative . While IT had Losers , C J introduces us to The Misfits and frankly the backstories of some of the Misfits sound vaguely familiar if you are familiar with the IT world . . My imagination did not bother or lacked the power to picturise the ” horrifying ” scenes down to the minute detail that I did not get scared as much as I hoped to be . So I breezed through the book and returned it to the library . Nothing stood out about The Chalk Man that I remember it or could have written about here . .
That’s why I picked up a Mary Higgins Clark . But even Clark turned out to be a huge disappointment this time . But I have finally come to terms with the bitter truth that every great writer has a few mediocre books to his or her credit and Clark is no exception . The first thing that popped up in my mind after reading this book was if Clark actually wrote this book . Okay , without further rant , I will get started with the review . .
Plot summary :
A dark secret from a family’s past that threatens the lives of two sisters, Kate and Hannah Connelly, when the family-owned furniture firm in Long Island City, founded by their grandfather and famous for its fine reproductions of antiques, explodes into flames in the middle of the night, leveling the buildings to the ground, including the museum where priceless antiques have been on permanent display for years.
The ashes reveal a startling and grisly discovery, and provoke a host of suspicions and questions. Was the explosion deliberately set? What was Kate—tall , gorgeous , blond, a CPA for one of the biggest accounting firms in the country, and sister of a rising fashion designer—doing in the museum when it burst into flames? Why was Gus , a retired and disgruntled craftsman, with her at that time of night? What if someone isn’t who he claims to be?
Now Gus is dead, and Kate lies in the hospital badly injured and in a coma, so neither can tell what drew them there , or what the tragedy may have to do with the hunt for a young woman missing for many years , nor can they warn that somebody may be covering his tracks, willing to kill to save himself . . .
My thoughts on the book :
This is not a regular Clark novel and here are the reasons for it –
I have always raved about Clark’s heroines being young women who can tackle unexpected problematic situations in their lives with grit and intelligence . But sadly , Hannah Connelly does not have neither the intelligence or the grit for some amateur sleuth work or even bring some decent intuition until the last – but – one chapter . . . The amateur sleuth ( Hannah ‘ s sister Kate as a matter of fact ) is unfortunately sent to the coma within 3 chapters and we are left to put up with one of the most unimaginative Clark heroines who can only sit by her sister’s bedside holding her hand . . .
While I might have appreciated the deviation from the template requiring a I – can – handle – it – all – by – myself heroine , what irked me about Hannah Connelly is that she doesn’t bring anything to the plot . Take her out of the story line and still you would have a decent suspense story with the remainder of the characters . Note : You can also take her love interest from the plot . I seriously wouldn’t miss either of them . Katie ‘ s friend and her love – interest atleast do some thinking and give us some new angles to think about . . .
There is a reference to a Roman Catholic father who turns up at Kate’s hospital room to pray for her . I was expecting him to bring something significant information to the hospital visit along with his prayers . . . Nope , he had only the prayers and yet he took up an entire chapter . Talk about suspense genre writing sins . . .In addition to introducing characters who were only trying my patience as they took up entire chapters , the overall character development was not satisfactory . Sometimes it looked even amateurish .
While we are guaranteed a happy ending with Clark , I can’ t buy some aspects of the plot . . . While I might liberally overlook if those aspects are those of the subplot , the fact is that I can ‘ t buy the reveal of the main plot itself . . .
** Spoiler alert **
Will a four year old repress her intuitive knowledge regarding her father and the associated memory and actually grow up to be a young woman whose interactions with that man are very normal like a regular father – daughter ? I happened to pick up Agatha Christie ‘ s Sleeping murder ( as a re – read ) in which , coincidentally the heroine ‘ s ( Gwenda Reed ‘ s ) memory from early childhood gets triggered and she screams out when she sees the play The Duchess of Malfi and hears the following words spoken by one of the actors – “Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle; she died young” . . .
While Christie does not specify Gwenda ‘ s age ( at the time Gwenda actually thinks she witnessed the murder of a young woman named Helen ) , we can safely assume she was probably two or two – and – a – half . While several little things help Gwenda piece the memories ( with Miss Marple ‘ s help , of course ) , wouldn’t anything in all these years of Kate ‘ s life triggered something like an uneasiness regarding the man whom she called her father ? ? The man had actually threatened Kate that she should not say those words again when she had inadvertently let the incriminating words slip through . Will the threat become a part of the sub – conscious that easily ? I just can’t buy that . . .
When you have umpteen questions regarding the big reveal and downright unimpressed with the lead pair , you can ‘ t give it even a 3 .
Rating : 2 . 5 / 5
P . S : Now that we are in a lock-down in India , I don ‘ t have any option but to revisit my bookshelves. I am thinking of picking up a classic for a change . Hoping that the next read would be a change from all these disappointments . . .
Two books in three months – I know that the count is pathetic . . . Hoping I will be able to remedy that . . .