“Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.
That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.
Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.
But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…”
I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Fourth Monkey blog tour. This was such an eagerly anticipated book for me. When I heard it was Se7en meets Silence of the Lambs….well, my heart did a little happy flip. Literary-wise, that’s about as good as it gets for me (and yes, I have read the novelisation of Se7en, lol!).
So did The Fourth Monkey live up to my incredibly high expectations? Well, it did…and it didn’t. All in all this is cracking serial killer thriller which delivered twists, a fair amount of gore and lots of page turning tension. My problem however was that I expected something radically different and I didn’t get it. OK, it was compared to two movies/books so maybe I should have taken that as hint, but I didn’t. I’m sorry to say that I felt I had read several similar novels before and they were equally as good as The Fourth Monkey. I really hope I’m not coming across as negative towards this book because I am most certainly not, I really enjoyed it. It’s an absolutely storming serial killer thriller. But I read mostly from the crime genre (OK, pretty much exclusively!) so maybe that’s the problem.
The Fourth Monkey killer or 4MK has been free to torture and terrify the citizens of Chicago for five long years. Detective Sam Porter has been on the case hunting down the sadistic psychopath who delivers three white boxes wrapped with black string to the victims relatives. One contains their loved one’s ear, the next their eyes and the third box contains their tongue. Shortly after this the victim’s body is found with the message ‘DO NO EVIL’ written nearby in blood. Sam Porter and his team are obsessed with 4MK. But Sam’s life has taken a turn for the worse and he’s on compassionate leave when called to a devastating bus RTA. Porter doesn’t initially understand why his presence is necessary but all becomes clear when they find a small white box wrapped with black string in the bus victim’s pocket. The race is on. The 4MK killer is dead but the ear confirms one thing. He’s taken another victim and they need to be found before they die of dehydration, or worse…
I liked Sam Porter but I warmed more to Detectives Clair Norton and Brian Nash. They have a certain love/hate chemistry going on which brought a lighter note to a deliciously dark read. I guessed what was going to happen from fairly early on in the story which I found a little frustrating this time around, as Porter and team seemed completely blind to there being another option.
It’s a fairly gory read but in all I honesty, I wanted a bit more of the ‘eugh-factor’. Saying that, if you’re not a regular reader of this genre then you probably will find it quite disturbing. In a good way, of course!
The chapters alternate between the present day detailing the ongoing police investigation and diary entries written by the 4MK as a young boy. These diary entries I adored! I wanted more. I loved seeing how a young boy was shaped by his parents into a killing machine. I will just say that 4MK’s upbringing is quite different to that of his serial killer peers and I found it utterly fascinating! I would purchase a book written about 4MK’s early years and his relationship with his parents in a heartbeat.
Would I recommend this book? I would and if you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller then it’s a must read. This is going to be one of the most talked about books this Summer as it crosses lines other writers won’t and that is a wonderful thing. A great serial killer thriller but I’m not sure I was supposed to be rooting for 4MK….!
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and a review an ARC of The Fourth Monkey. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker was published in the UK by HQ on 27th June 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |
Giveaway #1: Here’s your chance to win one of three copies of The Fourth Monkey. Click this link to enter: http://jdbarker.com/fourth-monkey-contest-win-draft-copy-upcoming-novel-4mk/
Giveaway #2: Fancy being a character is a forthcoming J.D. Barker novel? Then click this link to enter: http://jdbarker.com/be-a-character-in-next-book/
Giveaway #3: I have one #4MK Killer Swag Box to giveaway. The Box contains a signed copy of the book, bookmark, stickers, a letter from the 4MK killer and a diary! All you need to do to enter is click on this rafflecopter link -> a Rafflecopter giveaway. UK & US entrants only please. You will need to provide your postal address so your prize can be sent No cash alternative. Giveaway ends on 5th July at midnight (BST).
Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.
At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.
Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public.
Barker’s indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.
Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.