“Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.
That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.
Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.
But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…”
Any books that draw a comparison to Silence of the Lambs and Se7en I approach with great caution, they rarely live up to the hype, but The Fourth Monkey does. It is really that great. Most of us are familiar with The Three Wise Monkeys, sometimes called the Three Mystical Apes and are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” The fourth monkey, Shizaru, is lesser known and represents “do no evil” and our sadistic killer follows the proverb in his killing pattern.
The Fourth Monkey is all about the plot. Having terrorised the citizens of Chicago over the past four years, the man known as The Four Monkey Killer (4MK), who tortured his victims before mailing their body parts back piece by piece to their families, is finally dead. Knocked down by a bus on his way to reach a post box to mail a recently amputated ear, it looks like his reign of terror over the city has came to a close. Now that the police have their man on a mortuary slab, the only thing left is to find his final victim, in the hope that she is still alive. A game of cat and mouse commences as the Chicago Police Department race against the clock in one last twisted battle.
This spine tingling story is told from multiple points of view, mainly from Sam Porter, the detective leading the case, and from 4MK, the killer himself through his diary entries. His diary tells his side of the story, starting from early childhood, documenting events as he evolved into the monster he became. Unsurprisingly, the diary chapters were by far my favourite. They were a fascinating insight into the mind of a killer, who didn’t start as a killer, he was just a boy but a combination of nature and nurture led him down that path. 4MK is the archetypal psychopath, completely devoid of any empathy. Cold, calculating, manipulative and detached. He made my blood run cold.
This is a bold and daring read, the author certainly does not hold back with gruesomely detailed depictions of violence, so I wouldn’t recommend this to the faint hearted however the gore only heightened the sense of fear. So much so, that at times I could smell it. There is such a sinister undercurrent flowing through keeping the reader in a state of anxiety. Something is not quite right, but it is hard to put the finger on it at first.
Barker’s prose flows effortlessly, seamlessly smooth as it switches from chapter to chapter, but also sharp as the reader is kept teetering on the knife edge of suspense. The characters are highly engaging although flawed, there is something I could identify with in both Porter and 4MK. That feeling when you begin to feel empathy for the killer but then are disturbed by your thoughts and disgusted with yourself was one I felt often whilst reading The Fourth Monkey.
This stunning book gets a massive five stars from me. I can see this being one of the big sellers of summer. If you’ve not read it yet then get clicking and buy it, you will not want to miss out on this one. Thanks to JD Barker, Harlequin and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.