What’s it about?
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 absolute favorite kind of serial killer stories are those where the killer is trying to outsmart the detectives chasing him. I love to read what makes them tick and how they got this way, making killing their favorite passtime. I not only like to read their point of view in the present, which is a fairly regular feature that pops up these days, but I also love to know their background, what formed them to be this character, and that is something that is not often addressed in the popular detective series. I certainly got what I wanted this time though.
The Fourth Monkey was an amazing read that really exceeded my expectations. I was expecting your usual detective’s hard day’s work of looking for a serial killer but Mr. Barker really lifts the story up from the masses of detective novels, it’s just that little more different. And yes it’s true as well, if there’s one novel that applies to the Se7en meets Silence of The Lambs comparison, it must be this one.
This novel is no less than 475 pages long, and I’m one of those readers who’d rather choose a shorter than a longer novel out of fear of getting bored but I solemnly declare that The Fourth Monkey is so exceptionnally good that I never got bored and I wouldn’t want to have missed any word, any thought or any scene of this novel.
As I already mentioned in the beginning, what really made me love this novel was the fact that there are chapters which read as diary entries that reflect the killer’s thoughts from the moment he was a child. Yes as a child and you can’t possibly imagine what he witnessed and experienced at such a young age. It is so unbelievable yet the author completely got away with it. I couldn’t tear myself away from these pages, the entries were like an addictive treat and they were chilling, horrifying and deliciously grisly to read. I have to warn you that there is quite a bit of torture involved and if you don’t like hard-hitting violence in novels, I advise you to leave this one well enough alone ;-). There’s a scene with a rat that I’ll always associate with this novel now, you’ll know what I mean when you read it.
The other major character in this novel is Detective Sam Porter who finds this diary on the body of the Four Monkey Killer or 4MK as he was called by the media for obvious reasons relating to his MO. The first three monkeys are well known and are used very literally by the killer and it all ends with the fourth one: “Do No Evil“. It seems a bit contradictory but not in the killer’s mind. Somebody has to do the job and the 4MK sees himself as judge and executioner for people who think they can get away with things. Someone has to pay for the consequences and who better than someone they love?
Porter is called to what seems a simple accident of a bus hitting a pedestrian but things turn rather nasty when it becomes clear that the 4MK killer is no more but there’s still a victim who will die if he doesn’t get to her soon. He has to look for a reason why the girl was targeted, which means someone had to have done something wrong but it’s a lot harder to investigate and unearth the truth when the people involved are doing everything they can to stop their secrets coming out. He and his partner Nash also have to read through the diary and look for clues. Can he get to the girl in time?
The longer into the story, the more the pace and tension ramps up. This is one crazy psychopath who will stay on my mind for a long time. His past is so twisted and sadistic, I’m not sure he ever got a chance to be anything other than what he grew up to be. There were unexpected twists when nearing the ending and I really liked that the author ventured off the beaten path here, making me shake my head quite a few times at where he was going with it. The killer’s past just became a lot weirder, if that’s even possible.
If you’re a thriller seeker and you don’t mind a bit of violence and angst then I can highly recommend you read this one!
I reveived a free copy of this novel from the author and his publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.