This review is written with thanks to Houghton Miffin Harcourt for my copy of The Fourth Monkey.
When Detective Sam Porter is called to an incident, it appears to be a run of the mill accident. However, when he arrives at the scene, he realises the body is that of 4MK, the four monkey killer. The police discover that he died on his way to deliver a message to his final victim. Can they find her before it is too late?
The Fourth Monkey is written from several different perspectives: Porter and Clair, the detectives investigating 4MK's death, Emory Connors, 4MK's victim and a diary from 4MK's childhood. The diary is intended to give the police the clues they need to find Emory, but it also gives the reader insight into a killer's mind. The alternating viewpoints allow Barker to build tension: the reader knows that the police have limited time to solve the case and the inclusion of the time at the beginning of each chapter serves to set the reader on edge, as the novel covers a much smaller time frame than I expected over a 400 page book. I found myself constantly looking for clues as to where Emory might be. There are also frequent references to the crimes that 4MK has executed in the past, and as a result, the reader knows how he operates and what is likely to happen next. Needless to say, I found this book very hard to put down as I rooted for Porter and his team.
At the beginning of Fourth Monkey, we learn that Porter has returned from leave to investigate 4MK's death. The reasons for Porter's leave were not immediately clear to me, and at first, the reader is given very few clues about the man behind the uniform. At times, I felt that it would have been useful to know more about him from the outset, but the way that Barker allows the reader to build a picture of Porter more gradually gave me the opportunity to empathise with him much more acutely.
I thought I had the case of The Fourth Monkey cracked pretty quickly, but as the novel reached its conclusion, I was proved wrong as Barker continued to keep me on my toes! The case becomes quite intricate, and in places, this was slightly confusing, but I remained intrigued until the end. The ending itself is quite open, and could lend itself to a sequel. I'm not sure whether there is a second instalment planned, but I would be interested to see how the plot and characters of The Fourth Monkey could be developed further.
The Fourth Monkey is released in June and is available to preorder from Amazon. You can enter a competition to win a draft copy of the book here.