by J.D. Barker
Published: 27th June 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I loved every minute of this amazingly crafted, sick and twisted book! I have tried to find the right words to say but I keep erasing everything because they all feel like I am not doing the book justice. J.D. Barker has done such a fantastic job with this one.
It starts off with the discovery of a dead body, the body of the elusive serial killer who has been Chicago’s worst nightmare for the last five years. Hold on, how is the serial killer dead at the beginning of the book? What’s the point of the whole book? Those were the questions I asked myself after reading the first few pages and I actually put the book aside and moved on to another one. A week later, I decided to give it another try and boy am I glad I did!
The approach Barker takes with The Fourth Monkey is quite different. The killer is found dead, hit by a bus and he had with him a package with his famous MO: A box with an ear inside addressed to a businessman. He kidnaps victims related to people who have committed a crime and have gotten away with it. He then sends them a package with the ear of the victim first followed by the eyes and finally the tongue.
What leads them to believe the dead man is the 4MK (Fourth Monkey Killer) is the box that’s found a few feet from his body, a box with a victim’s ear inside. How many times has he seen such boxes? The 4MK is known to use the see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil approach but what makes him standout is his additional fourth one, do no evil which is quite ironic given his actions.
Seven victims. Three boxes each.
Twenty-one boxes over nearly five years
The killer is dead, there is a victim out there who is very likely still alive but could die from dehydration. The killer has left behind a journal detailing his past and other clues to help the detective in his search for the victim. What follows is an epic journey of revelation as we get closer to the truth behind the 4MK’s life and the reason he chose the victim whose ear is in the box.
It was such a unique way to go about the story and it certainly held me hostage for the hours it took me to finish it. This has to be the most twisted book I have ever read and I have read a lot of twisted books.
What I did not like: (There are spoilers going forward, be warned!)
The diary entries seem a bit too far-fetched and I get they can be taken as an exaggerated piece from the 4MK but still. The thing is, it starts out showing that the child writing the entries is easily frightened and then a few minutes later he can stand by and watch somebody get killed like its not such a big deal. Yeah he was a creepy peeping tom but it does not explain how he could easily start getting the thrill of murder and what not. Also the way he threatened the mum, really? And how old was this kid? But then again, it could have been the 4MK trying to exaggerate the story so that he could get some shock from the detective.
I highly recommend this book and I cannot stress this enough. The book has already been optioned for both film and television.