The Tattooed Book Geek

The Fourth Monkey (a 4MK Thriller #1) by J.D. Barker

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Book Blurb:

Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs in this dark and twisting novel from the author Jeffery Deaver called, “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”

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.


Book Review:

I’m not a thriller reader, it’s a genre that I only very rarely visit with and read but I’d seen The Fourth Monkey reviewed favourably on lots of blogs and having ‘Se7ven meets Silence of the Lambs‘ emblazoned on the cover really piqued my interest as both are classic films. Se7ven, in particular, is an outstanding film, a favourite of mine and that comparison alone was enough to make me want to read The Fourth Monkey. As you can probably tell due to this being a book review, no sleuthing required there Detective! I did, in fact, read the book, a non-fantasy book on my fantasy blog and the world didn’t end!

The four monkeys:
Hear no evil.
See no evil.
Speak no evil.
Do no evil.

Without going into specific detail about either the plot or the killer (that’s not my style). Though you should be able to guess from the first three monkeys what body parts they each correspond too and I am saying nothing more! The story told in the Fourth Monkey follows the search for the Fourth Monkey Killer’s latest victim by the 4MK team (consisting of Porter, Nash, Clair and Klos aided by some other characters). Then you have chapters about 15-year-old Emory who is the latest victim of 4MK and finally, interspersed with these is the origin of the 4MK, a diary written by Mr 4MK depicting part of his youth.

One of the things that I look for and love in a fantasy book, when a group is involved, is the humour, interplay and relationships between the members of that group. In The Fourth Monkey Barker manages to interject that camaraderie into the 4MK team adding a touch of lightness to the book with varying dynamics, relationships and banter between different individuals in the group to go alongside the seriousness of the case and urgency with which they need to find Emory. Nash and Clair were a highlight for me, I mean, c’mon, those two seriously need to get a room together! Porter is another stellar character, a 58-year-old Detective who has been working the 4MK case since the very start 5 years ago and is adamant that they won’t lose yet another victim to the killer.

The chapters with Emory showcase the bleak and claustrophobic confines of her captivity with Barker making you feel her fear and torment at the hands of 4MK, evoking a chilling atmosphere of her loneliness and despair as she mentally struggles with the hopelessness of her predicament.

The way that Barker gives us the back story on the 4MK through his diary really was a stroke of genius and for me, it was the best part of the book. I admit that it’s always fun to find out what makes the crazies tick and I was both fascinated and eager (not sure what that implies about me) to delve back into the youth of 4MK every time a diary chapter came up. Without giving anything away about what happens I will write that what at first appears to be an idealistic white picket fence house with a perfectly normal loving family life soon turns into something that is completely messed up and you are left with no allusion as to why Mr 4MK is a basket case, cuckoo!

There are some grisly, gruesome and unsettling scenes during the book (a couple of scenes will have the delicate flowers amongst you feeling squeamish) but Barker stays on the right side of the line, never crossing over and taking things ‘too far’ with needlessly descriptive and over the top gratuitous violence just for the sake of shock value. I’m not sure however that I’ll ever look at Rats the same way again, dirty disease-ridden vermin but now I’ll add shudders!

I didn’t expect the twist when it came, whether or not it was obvious to others who are veteran readers of this genre I don’t know. But for me (as only a very occasional thriller reader) while I did have an inkling that something was amiss it really was an ‘oh shit‘ moment when the twist was revealed!

The story plays out over three days with chapters taking place through various PoV across different times over the period. Time is an important issue as the team try and puzzle out where the 4MK has taken Emory before it’s too late. The often short chapters move along at a quick pace and with his writing, Barker does a great job of building and maintaining the tension and suspense throughout the duration of the 400-page book.

I loved The Fourth Monkey and devoured it over this past weekend finding it to be a phenomenal and gripping read and that oh so stereotypical and eye rolling phrase a ‘page turner of a book‘.

4MK truly is a fantastic thriller and it’s a testament to how great the book is that someone who isn’t a fan of the genre was so fully engrossed by it! I can’t wait for the sequel and can definitely see 4MK being turned into a film!


Purchase The Fourth Monkey:

Amazon UK  /  Amazon US  /  Book Depository


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