#BookReview: THE FOURTH MONKEY by J.D. Barker

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive.

As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unraveling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.

With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller.

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

My Review

I love when an author takes us inside a psychopath’s mind, showing us how and why the person became a cold-blooded killer. The author does just that with The Fourth Monkey, giving us a complex serial killer with an interesting mix of nature/nurture disaster.

We learn a lot about the killer through his diary, with sections interspersed throughout the present-day story. I thought parts of the diary were over-the-top, stretching plausibility, and feeling almost satirical. Still, as a whole it works. Besides, it is a diary, written by a psychopath, so we might expect him to embellish and/or alter certain events.

I am a thief, a murderer, a kidnapper. I’ve killed for fun. I’ve killed out of necessity. I have killed for hate. I have killed simply to satisfy the need that tends to grow in me with the passage of time. A need much like a hunger that can only be quenched by the draw of blood or the song found in a tortured scream.

The plot moves at a good pace, keeping us engaged as we uncover all the pieces of the puzzle. With Detective Sam Porter, we have the damaged hero trying to redeem himself. While that’s become a standard with crime fiction, Sam is well developed and his story is unique. His vulnerability feels honest, adding dimension and realism to the ‘typical cop’ character.

Porter found himself staring down at the body, at the lumpy form under the black plastic shroud.

This story is violent, dark, and sometimes graphic. We are reading about a serial killer, after all. I thought the author struck an excellent balance, not holding back but also not using graphic scenes for shock value.

I thoroughly enjoyed Barker’s writing style. We are in the moment, with the characters, experiencing the events as they do. My only complaint is that the characters did a whole lot of eye rolling. (26 times, if we’re counting.) I admit it’s one of my quirks, getting sidetracked and hung up on this sort of thing, but I started rolling my own eyes at the characters. I read an ARC, so I’m hoping some of these eye rolls were edited out in the final version.

My other minor complaint is that this book has followed the new trend of cliffhanger endings. This cliffhanger isn’t horrible, as many I’ve read over the past couple of months have been. (I’m not a fan of the trend.) Much of the story resolves itself. But not all of it. The storyline will continue into future books, which is now evident by the addition of ‘A 4MK Thriller’ after the title on Amazon’s listing.

*I received an advance copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*


Thanks for reading. 🙂