Review | The Fourth Monkey | J.D. Barker
Publication Date: June 27th, 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Page Count: 416
Why I read it: This amazing cover. I saw it all over Instagram!
First Sentence: "There it was again, that incessant ping."
Synopsis: From Amazon- 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.
My Thoughts: The book begins with no preamble. We're introduced to detective Sam Porter, who gets a 911 text from one of his colleagues who tells him there's been an accident and that he should head to the site ASAP. The story unfolds and we quickly find out why Porter specifically was called to the scene. The dead man appears to be the Four Monkey Killer, a Chicago serial killer that Detective Porter has been tussling with for years. The man is holding a box with a piece of his most recent victim in it; it appears he was on the way to the mailbox when the bus came. He also has a journal in his pocket, which gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of the killer via a vignette from his childhood. The book cycles back and forth between the journal and present day. Sometimes, I find myself getting bored when the story skips around, but both stories were completely captivating so I was hooked. 4MK is truly twisted- we find out that he learned the tricks of the trade from his mother and father. We also get to find out where the nickname Four Monkey Killer comes from, which I loved. Despite the bus, 4MK has left clues to direct the police to his latest victim and they're frantically trying to 'puzzle it out' so they can reach the girl in time. There were some cliches peppered into the beginning- the corrupt Chicago politicians, the hard boiled - crap at technology police officers- but not enough to take away from the story. The story also has alternating POVs- Porter, 4MK via the journal, another detective, and the victim. As you might imagine, the book is about a kidnapping and a serial killer, so it does get graphic and violent. Reading through the victim's story was chilling, but her story is only a small piece of the puzzle. I kept thinking it was going to go one way and then it would go another. There were a few big surprises peppered throughout- none of which i saw coming. (But, to be fair, I'm pretty bad at predicting that sort of thing). It started a bit slower for me, but once I was about 60% of the way through I couldn't put it down. The fact that the story opens with a bus having run over a major player in the story kept things from becoming too predictable. Some of the pieces of the story were far fetched, but if you let yourself suspend reality and go with the narration, I think you'll enjoy it too.
Favorite Quote: "Women were perfectly capable of handling pain but not emotion. Men handled emotion but not pain. The differences were sometimes subtle, but they were there nonetheless."
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