Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs in this dark and twisty thriller
For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorised the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realise 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 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, unravelling 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.
J.D. Barker is the international best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Debut novel. In addition, he has been asked to co-author a prequel to Dracula by the Stoker family.
The Fourth Monkey
Author: J.D. Barker
Question: How would you describe The Fourth Monkey?
J.D. Barker: It's a glimpse into the mind of a killer both past and present. When I set out to write this book, I knew I had to approach it from a fresh angle. The serial killer story has been done to death. I've often wondered if a serial killer can be made - if a child is raised under the perfect storm of bad, could a killer be intentionally created. With The Fourth Monkey, readers get a peek into that possibility. Can a killer be molded by circumstance and environment? Or does it require something deeper, something genetic, a bad seed in the garden.
Question: What do you enjoy most about writing thrillers?
J.D. Barker: I love the complexity. Thriller readers are some of the sharpest of the lot - they thrive on twists and turns and intricate plot lines. There are no shortcuts, they've read them all and they expect the unexpected. The challenge of coming up with something that hasn't been done before, then executing it in a way that grips the reader and holds till the end is not easy, but when you get it right, it's magic.
Question: What is the best thing about creating a character like Detective Sam Porter?
J.D. Barker: Anytime I write a story, I always start with the characters. I create full backstories, histories. I feel like I know them, make them as real as possible, then I drop them into a situation. Sam is one of those guys I'd love to have a beer with. He's had a rough go of it and although it's made him a little rough around the edges, there's still a good guy in there. I know a lot of police officers and most of the ones who are capable of doing that difficult job (particularly homicide) have a thick skin, they rely heavily on humor. The ones who don't, don't tend to last long.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?
J.D. Barker: Write every day. That's key. Even if you only do 300 words, that's enough for a full novel in less than a year. Writing is like a muscle, you need to exercise it. I've learned a couple tricks over the years - I listen to a thunderstorm soundtrack whenever I write - as soon as I hear that sound, I immediately slip into writer mode. Also, I never get up unless I know what my next sentence is going to be. I'll sometimes stop mid-sentence. Early on, I found that if I wrote until the well went dry, the next day I'd find myself staring at a blank screen for a while until my muse returned. If I know what comes next, as soon as I sit down, the words flow much easier.
Question: What's next, for you?
J.D. Barker: I think as more of my work gets out in the wild, readers will find that I bounce between thrillers, horror, paranormal, sci-fi…with suspense being the common thread. For the next one, we're going scary - Dacre Stoker and I recently completed a prequel to DRACULA based on Bram Stoker's original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public. This one is going to turn the world on it's head. Bram felt vampires were real, our novel explains exactly why. If you think you know the Dracula story, this book is for you. More info on that can be found at www.draculabegins.com as well as my website, www.jdbarker.com. If you'd like a sneak peak at what I'm up to, best to follow me on Twitter @jdbarker
Interview by Brooke Hunter