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By JD Barker
Goodreads Rating: 4.53
Genre: Police Mystery/Serial Killer Thriller
Publication Date: June 27th 2017
Format Read: Phone Ebook via Netgalley at Agent Request
Challenges met: What’s in a Name?
Goodreads Summary: 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.
This was the first police procedural type thriller I’ve ever read, and so I was really excited about that aspect going in. However, I found that these are NOT my ideal reads, which was a bit disappointing. I think what saved this book for me was that there was another time line within it, which was written from the perspective of the 4th monkey killer (4MK) himself, back when he was a child. This part was far, far better, and I would always look forward to the flashbacks, told by way of a diary. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and even some of the police parts were interesting, and so I would recommend, especially if you enjoy police thrillers.
The main character was police Detective Sam Porter. He’s a middle aged married guy, 50s (I think), and he’s worked on the force for years, mostly on the 4MK cases. However, at the time the book starts he was supposed to be on a “break” for reasons which we don’t find out until later in the book. His assistant, Nash, is also a Detective, and the two are almost always together. One of the biggest problems which I had with the characterization in this book is that these two seemed to be almost identical, until the very end. I felt like JD Barker was imposing his sense of humor on both of the characters, which led to them being very much alike in many ways, even though Nash was supposed to be the more outgoing, funny one.
The side characters– Clair and Watson specifically– were quite well developed and offered awesome distinctive personalities to the book. I think Clair might have had her own pov chapter at some point as well, which is something I like. A strong, young woman is something that I can get behind. There were lots of other characters which flitted into and out of these scenes, but none were well developed and I kept mixing them up and not remembering their names, at no loss to the meaning of the novel, so I think it’s a bit irrelevant.
Although Porter was the MC for most of the book, 4MK writes a diary which is “read” throughout and offers a different perspective to the novel. These parts were my favorite, because 4MK had SUCH a distinctive, strong personality that was very very creepy and yet kind of cool at the same time. Plus, his mother was FREAKING WEIRD but yet awesome at the same time, because she was so damn strong, and the father was cool too. (I’m not a psycho I just think it was cool).
Another perspective, from a kidnapped girl, was (IMO) a good part to read, because she was a strong girl even though she was suffering, and she fought so hard, which is definitely a positive. Not saying her name because that part is a semi spoiler.
There was alternating POV between 3 main people, and then one more who just had a single chapter. I liked this because it created more suspense, and also provided some interest in the slower parts. As I said earlier, I wasn’t a huge fan of Porter’s POV, but it was broken up well so that the boring parts never lasted for too long.
In general, I thought pacing was good, but it did move quickly. There wasn’t much time for world building or character development and you were pretty much figuring out everything on the fly. I think there was one scene where they went back and recapped what 4MK was for the readers, but other than that it was go-go-go.
What I Loved…
I loved the pacing of the novel, and the twist at the end. You could 150% see how it happened looking back, but I never for an instant guessed the truth. The way they piece everything together is really really cool as well. It causes the reader to keep guessing along the entire time.
I could have read an entire book of just 4MK’s childhood perspective, and that really made the book for me.
The whole idea of the 4 monkeys, which comes from some type of ancient myth, is so creative!
What I Hated…
This book was GROSS. Like I can’t explain how gross. I’m not one to be turned off by intense descriptions, but this book had me cringing and skim reading because I was feeling sick by the descriptions. If you’re not one for gore or vivid detail, I highly suggest skipping this read. But, on the other hand, congrats to Barker for writing in such a realistic way 🙂
The Porter/Nash personality complex sort of threw me off a little bit in the beginning.
ALRIGHT PEOPLE. LISTEN UP. This was the biggest problem with the book for me. Although Barker wrote 2 very strong, independent women who knew what they wanted and went for it, there were underlying notes of sexism in much of the book. This not only pissed me off, but at some parts made me slightly uncomfortable, and caused me to dislike the male characters a bit.
Clair was one of the youngest women to ever work her way up at the police station, and she’s described as super good at her job, tough as nails, doesn’t take BS from anyone. However, Nash (one of the biggest side characters) consistently flirted with her and spoke in a manner to her that was incredibly unprofessional, and made me squirm. Nothing physical ever happened, but he spoke down to her often just because she was a woman. This was considered funny by many of the characters, despite the fact that Clair was consistently warding off his advances. MEN: JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT A WOMAN DOESN’T MEAN SHE WANTS YOU. If a woman is constantly declining your flirtation or sexual passions, then you need to leave her the fuck alone. This works the other way too.
In the diary flashbacks, 4MK (as a child) looks on with lust at his older (meaning 30s) female neighbor while she is naked, and while she is hooking up with his mother. This could be blown off, but then later the neighbor states that she knew 4MK was there, but she enjoys having her body looked at because she wanted to be desired. To me, this perpetuates rape culture, where men believe that women want to be stared at like pieces of meat, and that if they wear revealing clothing it’s because they want the man to “like it”. It’s troubling that a woman in the novel could so easily say something that goes directly against what we are fighting to change in our society today.
I don’t know if Barker intended this, as he did create strong women in his writing, and the MC has obvious affection and respect for his wife, but I do fear that the one scene described above, combined with Nash’s actions, create an underlying theme of sexism that shouldn’t be ignored.
Homosexuality– yes I know this of itself is not a trigger. But you should know that in the book, two women were sleeping together for a long time, and they are not looked on very highly for it. Then again, they are both married, and it’s their husbands who find out, so that could have kind of a lot to do with it.
Abuse– There is a man in the book who beats his wife, and tries to rape someone else, but there are no particularly strong details, and it only happens in one chapter.
It’s very gruesome, as I said earlier, so if you are not okay with that, then don’t read this book. I can’t think of anything specific to point out, so we’ll leave it at that.
This review has gotten really long, so I’ll keep this quick. I loved the story and the twist at the end, and thought that the plot had good flow. The police part was my least favorite, and the diary my favorite. Most of the character development was good, except for the overlapping of the MC and his sidekick. There was sexism though, and this caused it to lose a star in my review.
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Disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley at the request of an agent in exchange for an honest review.
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