A Book Spy Review: ‘The Fourth Monkey’ By J.D. Barker


Chicago homicide detective Sam Porter has been after the self-proclaimed Four Monkey Killer for five years. Now, after being hit by a city bus, the slippery killer is dead, but there’s one last victim who needs to be saved–and precious little time to find her.

Always choosing different young women as his victims, the Four Monkey Killer is anything but random. He targets women based on the actions of their relatives, and is a methodical, cold-blooded killer who taunts the Chicago Police Department in an act of defiance–and as part of a larger game.

When Sam Porter is summoned early one morning to a crime scene, it’s not immediately apparent why someone called for a homicide detective.  Word has it that a pedestrian stepped in front of a bus, immediately dying on impact. But when searching the corpse for clues to ID the body, police found a small white box containing a human ear–which is the calling card of the Four Monkey Killer–indicating he’d claimed another victim before meeting the bus head-on.

Also found at the scene is the killer’s journal, which, combined with the severed ear, leads Porter to believe the murderer’s last victim is still alive–at least for the time being.

Having been unable to solve any of the killer’s riddles and clues in the past, Porter pours over the journal–both trying to understand the killer’s motive and to search for any clues that might lead him to the victim. In the process, Barker takes his lead character, and the reader, on a frightening, hair-raising trip through the mind of a serial killer that is both chilling and seductive.

As Porter identifies the killer, his gruesome backstory provides insight into the man’s troubled mind. And while Barker’s novel isn’t for the faint of heart, the main theme here is a sadistic, expertly-written game of cat and mouse played by two experts on opposite sides of the law. It’s dark, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Barker, who made a name for himself as a horror author, brings an exciting energy to his new genre–churning out a masterful first crime fiction novel that is perfect for fans of Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs.

Book Details

Author: J.D. Barker
Series: 4MK #1
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0544968840
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
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We’re proud to be teaming up with Barker and his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to offer Book Spy followers several exclusive giveaways!

Every month we publish Reading Guides to help keep readers up-to-speed on what’s hitting bookstores that month, always highlighting a few novels that we’re extra excited about. As most of our followers know, we’re also running a year-long reading challenge–where thriller fans can earn prizes just by reading great books.

At the end of the year, we’ll be giving one participant a mega prize package, full of signed books and thriller swag. J.D. Barker was nice enough to offer signed copies to go in both the final prize package, as well as to other random winners along the way. Also, because his novel is one of our Featured Selections in June, anyone who reads his book and lets us know about it on social media using the hashtag #RealBookSpyReadingChallenge will have their name submitted twice into the pool we’ll draw from at the end of the year.

To top it off, Barker’s publisher has offered to do a couple awesome prize boxes that we’ll be giving away after The Fourth Monkey hits bookstore shelves–so keep an eye out for that!


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