cover image The Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey

J.D. Barker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-544-96884-4

Horror author Barker (Forsaken) ventures into crime fiction with mixed results. When a man steps into a Chicago street and is fatally hit by a bus, the police find evidence on him suggesting that he’s the famous Four Monkey Killer, who liked to kidnap relatives of criminals and cut off ears, eyes, and tongues over a period of days. Suspecting that the latest victim is still alive, detective Sam Porter forms a task force to try to find her before she starves or dies from her wounds. Meanwhile, Porter reads the killer’s diary—found on his body—to try to get a sense of his motivations. Diary entries reveal the killer to have been a reasonably standard budding sociopath, but the focus soon shifts to the boy’s equally warped parents and a ludicrous plot involving mobsters. Past events inform the present-day investigation, which fortunately offers some nice twists on classic thriller tropes. [em]Agent: Kristin Nelson, Kristin Nelson Literary Agency. (June) [/em] This review has been corrected to omit a spoiler.