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The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

The Fourth Monkey

by J.D. Barker

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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.

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.

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.* ( )
  Darcia | Jun 26, 2017 |
Hear no evil - See no evil - Speak no evil - Do no evil!
Sergeant Sam Porter has been chasing The Fourth Monkey Killer (4MK) for years, so he can hardly believe it when a traffic accident provides the most valuable clues yet as to the elusive serial killer's identity. But can Porter and his team find 4MK's latest victim before time runs out?
Believe the hype! I'm sure this will be one of my top thrillers for 2017. I kept seeing this turn up in my newsfeed and finally succumbed. I started it dreading that it would turn into another book that everybody but me loves. But from page one, I was totally and utterly mesmerized by this dark and twisted tale.
Containing graphic scenes of violence and torture, this is not for the faint of heart. There were several OMG moments. The writing - switching between present and past - was superb. The diary of the serial killer was deeply disturbing and the creepiest part of the entire book. I absolutely loved it!
I also really enjoyed the good-natured banter between the investigative team and the relationship between Porter and Nash and the rest of the team.
As you read this, it's easy to see the movie play out in your head. Can't wait to see this on the screen. It's cleverly plotted and the ending is just great. Without a doubt, a definite 5-star read.
My thanks to Maxine for providing me with an ARC. ( )
  Pet12 | Apr 28, 2017 |
Chicago homicide detective Sam Porter has spent much of the last 5 years hunting for the “Fourth Monkey Killer” (4MK). Seven victims, twenty-one little white boxes…..each containing first an ear, then the eyes & last, the tongue. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. But it’s the fourth monkey that is the clue to the killer’s motive. Do no evil.

Each victim is related to someone guilty of crimes that went unpunished & 4MK stepped up to act as judge & executioner. Now Sam & his partner Nash have reason to believe he’s been stopped. Literally.

They’re called to the scene of an accident, a case of man vs. bus. The bus won. And on the pavement beside the dead man’s body is a small white box. The good news is their search for 4MK is over. The bad news: somewhere out there is a new victim with one ear.

They realize they’ve only got 2 or 3 days to find her & the old 4MK task force is quickly reassembled. The dead man had no ID but was carrying a journal that turns out to be his memoir. It begins with descriptions of his childhood & ends by taunting police to decipher the cryptic clues he’s left behind.

This is a fast paced thriller with a sea of red herrings to keep you guessing. There are many side stories that run parallel. Secrets, old crimes, hidden agendas & historical connections are just a few of the threads the task force has to unravel before they can figure out 4MK’s master plan. Chapters alternate between their investigation, the victim’s ordeal & entries from the killer’s journal.

Despite the publicity blurb, this doesn’t have the pervasive menace of Se7en or Silence of the Lambs. Descriptions of crime scenes are graphic (should answer all your burning questions about maggots) but it’s offset by the characters we spend most time with. Sam, Nash & their crew work well together & their dialogue is full of lame jokes & gentle ribbing. These are cops who actually wouldn’t be out of place in a cozy & they provide a marked contrast to the actions of the killer. There’s a refreshing lack of the plethora of personal issues & office politics that seem to afflict so many fictional detectives.

The crimes are brutal but I actually found the chapters detailing 4MK’s childhood to be the creepiest part of the whole thing. From idyllic to surreal, his story contains all the clues needed to understand his motivation.

It’s a pacey read with a whack of twists to keep you turning the pages. Sam & his posse are a likeable bunch & judging by the final pages, we’ll be hearing from them again. ( )
  RowingRabbit | Apr 16, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544968840, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Feb 2017 03:10:02 -0500)

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