The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker

The Blurb On The Back:

See no evil.

Hear no evil.

Speak no evil.

Do no evil.

The Four Monkey Killer has terrorised Chicago for over five years.  Now he is dead.  When the police find his body, they discover he was on his way to deliver a message – one which proves he has taken another victim and this one might still be alive.

But even in death, the killer is taunting Detective Sam Porter, lead investigator on the 4MK taskforce.  A personal diary found on the body takes Porter in the mind of the most evil of psychopaths and he must unravel a twisted history in the hopes of finding the final victim before it’s too late. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

For 5 years a serial killer’s been working in Chicago, kidnapping individuals and then sending their body parts (an ear, the eyeballs and then their tongue) to their relatives in neat white boxes before posing their corpse somewhere public with the message Do No Evil.  Dubbed the Four Monkey Killer (as in hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil and do no evil), Detective Sam Porter headed a taskforce to catch him but it’s been 6 months since the 7th victim was killed and they still have no leads.

Until now.

Porter gets a call from his partner Nash when a bus runs over a man carrying a white box containing an ear addressed to Arthur Talbot, a famous property developer.  The bus has destroyed the man’s face but his pockets contained a diary, a laundry receipt, a pocket watch and 75¢.  Nash and Porter (assisted by eager new CSI Paul Watson and detective Clair Norton) must work out who the killer was, who he took and try to find the victim while they’re still alive.  To do so, Porter reads the killer’s diary and discovers both a twisted past and a very twisted plan …

J. D. Barker’s crime thriller is an entertaining rollercoaster and although the diary device is gimmicky (not least due to its deliberate LEAVE IT TO BEAVER meets BLUE VELVET vibe) and I guessed several twists, it kept me turning the pages and has a great set-up for a sequel, which I would definitely want to check out.

To be honest I found Porter, Nash, Watson and Norton to be quite bland, almost cookie cutter characters individually, but Barker does well at depicting their friendship (especially Porter and Nash) and while a couple of twists were telegraphed a little too early, I came to care about all of them as I turned the pages.  The killer’s diary has a deliberately hokey voice, which I found a little off-putting (although it is a deliberate choice on the part of the killer) but I still find myself drawn into his story and was interested enough to want to know how it tied in with the later murders.  The plot rolls along at a good pace and I was invested in the outcome with the ending providing an interesting set-up for a sequel, which I would definitely check out.

THE FOURTH MONKEY will be released in the United Kingdom on 27th June 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC copy of this book.

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