The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker – A Book Review


I totally forgot to add this to my ‘upcoming reads ad listens post’ hence why it kind of looks like I threw a random title in as the first review after that post. Forgetfulness or laziness … a fine line. Anyway, onto the critique.



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…


Author: J. D. Barker

Publisher: HQ

Release Date: 27/06/2017

Pages: 480

My Chosen Format: Hardback

My Rating of ‘The Fourth Monkey’: 3 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



The Fourth Monkey is one of those books that just leapt out at me and screamed to be read. Which is rare for thrillers as they aren’t the type of book I tend to go for all that often. I like them; I just really have to be in a certain mood to want to go for them.

It was almost destined to languish on my TBR for far too long … until I stumbled across a hardback copy in my local charity shop. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the fantastic book I expected, I’m glad that I came across it.

I want to start by saying that the cover for the hardback edition … love it. Probably my favourite cover of any book I own.

It isn’t the best thriller I’ve ever read, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enjoyable to read. To begin with, I felt I was going to struggle to like the characters. The protagonist’s partner just seemed far too stereotypical ‘dumb-cop’ and it grated on me early. Thankfully the rest of the cast gelled in such a way that I even started to like him.

A few of the things that the author perhaps wanted to be an unknown leading into a ‘bet you didn’t see that coming’ moment didn’t really strike pay-dirt with me. One of them, I won’t say what but it is started fairly early on, was something I guessed almost instantly. It didn’t lessen my enjoyment, if anything it just made me feel a little smug that I saw through certain parts.

The overall plot is pretty good. The race against time (the chapters are even labelled with the time of day etc …) to save the poor young, teenage girl from certain death, is done very well. I liked the whole mystery surrounding the killer and think that, if he was operating in the real world he’d be as big a criminal celebrity as the Zodiac Killer or Jack the Ripper.

The novel flips back and forth between the main narrative and a diary of the killer. I don’t mind the whole ‘diary entry thing’ but a couple of things strike me as incredibly dumb about the whole diary as a plot-device thing.

When asked if he can make a copy for everyone to read, the main character refuses and says he’ll get to it on his own time … yea mate. Wise move. You’re only up against the clock and a girl’s life depends on it. But you take all the time in the world to read that book and let nobody else see it. Clever police work. There are other issues I had with the diary, but I’ll not go into them as they are going to give spoilers. I understand the author wanting to do a diary entry to show the reader just what kind of monster the Fourth Monkey Killer is, but in a world where things make sense, the way this was done just makes none whatsoever.

The diary itself flits between being interesting, darkly disturbing, laden with torture, outlandish to the point of it feeling like the author tried too hard (the prim and proper way of speech for the family really grated on me and didn’t feel like it fit.) That being said, the diary itself did provide some really interesting parts to the main narrative and, without that diary, the sequel wouldn’t be set up.

I kind of made the last few paragraphs sound like it wasn’t a book I enjoyed. It was. It just had a fair few flaws that made it hard for me to suspend my disbelief. It almost felt like it was trying to take itself too seriously without doing any real research or putting any real thought into what might actually happen in certain situations.

There were some great parts to 4MK. The antagonist, as I said, was very enigmatic and mysterious. Even with the diary of his childhood unfolding, adult 4MK seemed like a different beast entirely and it kept it interesting. You could tell the author really enjoyed writing the darker parts of the novel. By dark I mean torture to the extreme. So if torture sets your alarm bells off, don’t pick this up. I also particularly enjoyed the game of cat and mouse between protagonist and antagonist. That was handled really well.

I also mentioned a sequel. The last few pages got me super-excited for it. The author did a great job of getting me hyped for it despite the shortcomings I felt were littered throughout this novel.


19 thoughts on “The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker – A Book Review

      1. The premise of this torture is quite simple. You attach a cage with rat/s to one’s body, preferably the abdomen or face, and when the rat gets hungry, it knows all it has to do is to eat its way out…
        It was allegedly used during Dutch Revolt, in Argentina and in Pinochet’s Chile.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have a pic of the physical book, no. I always just find the correct cover on Amazon. This is the same cover I have. So simple, yet I fell in love with the design.

      Ooh! I’ll go have a look on NG. Cheers for mentioning it, buddy.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review! I really enjoyed this book, probably because I didn’t question a lot about the plot elements and just went with it 😀 I am also yet to read the sequel, though… hmm.. that ending was good, so I best keep my eye out for a copy of book 2!

    Liked by 2 people

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