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 . . .