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Tuesday 8 August 2017

‘The Fourth Monkey’ by J.D. Barker

Published by HQ (HarperCollins),
27 June 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-00-821699-3

Chicago, present day. On leave cop Sam Porter is called in to what seems a routine suicide – except that the dead man was carrying a parcel containing a human ear ... the signature of the #4MK killer. Somewhere in the city is a kidnapped young girl ... and Porter has only three days to find her.

This story has two narration strands. The first follows Porter as he carries out the investigation, with the occasional chapter showing us how the kidnapped girl, Emory, is surviving her captivity. The other strand is the diary found on the body, telling us of the killer’s childhood, and a seeming-normality that turns increasingly violent. Porter is a good everyman cop, determined to get the answers, and he’s surrounded by an interesting team who spark well off each other. The police background is convincingly done, with paperwork and briefings, but Porter’s status as on-leave means he can act alone when he wants to. The child of the diaries is a chilling character, growing up in a seemingly happy, though old-fashioned household, but already experimenting with killing animals. The chapters are short – three or four pages – and both narratives are written in a way that makes you want to keep turning them – I found the thickness of the book daunting initially, but once I began reading, I was engrossed. There were several excellent twists, particularly in the ending, and the Chicago atmosphere, particularly in the underground tunnels scenes, was well done.

A page-turning psychopathic killer PI with two cracking storylines, great characters and clever plotting. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

J.D. Barker is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His latest novel, The Fourth Monkey, released in June 2017. His third novel, The Fifth To Die, releases June 2018. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

A review of her recent book Ghosts of the Vikings can be read here.


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