Tag Archives: serial killer

The Fourth Monkey by J.D Barker – a review

I picked up a copy of this from Netgalley ages ago and for some reason I kept overlooking it. Until a trip to Newcastle where there was no wifi in my room and I hadn’t updated my kindle recently and this was at the top of the list. Well once I started I couldn’t stop.

The Fourth Monkey is about a killer who sends body parts of his victims to the police to taunt them. First they get an ear, then the eyes following the ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ monkeys. Detective Porter has spent 5 years chasing the 4MK (4th Monkey Killer) whilst also dealing with a tragedy in his personal life. Just when he thinks he will have to give up, the police seem to get a big break. So starts a race against time to find the next victim.

This was a really gripping novel, that I felt had that great combination of gruesome murder and humour. I like a serial killer story, and read a lot. Therefore to find one that to me felt a bit different is a real bonus. There were some great one liners in this book that made me chuckle, especially in the interaction of the detectives. The story also includes a diary of the young 4MK and details his relationship with his parents and how his childhood was. Personally I wasn’t as keen on the diary element as I was on the rest of the story, mainly because it makes some very uncomfortable reading. Yet it also gives you an insight into the killers childhood that almost make you feel a bit of sympathy for him.

This is definitely not a book for the feinthearted. There was a scene with a rat which made me squirm. However it is a great read that I would highly recommend if you like a gruesome story with a touch of humour.

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Dead Gone by Luca Vesta – a review

I have a habit of buying books a bit like I buy wine, in bulk. It’s a money saving thing really as if I had to go into Waterstones and only buy one book at a time I’d end up wasting hours trying to decide which one, and time is money after all! Dead Gone was therefore a book I added on impulse to a pile I bought before my operation. Despite not having heard of the author before, the front cover had a recommendation by Mark Billingham and if it’s good enough for Mark its good enough for me.

Set in Liverpool this is the debut novel by Luca Vesta. The story starts with the disappearance of Jemma as she walks home one night. Her boyfriend seems to be distraught, however things are not always what they seem. Her family and friends are at first sceptical as Jemma has gone missing before. Yet as time goes on they begin to realise things are not right and suspicion starts to point at the boyfriend. Alongside this story, bodies are being discovered with notes attached describing experiments carried out in the 1920s.
I enjoyed this book and thought the subject matter of the story was fascinating especially the references to varying psychological experiments. A few years ago I went to some ‘fun’ lectures about criminal psychology which discussed alot of the unethical work that was done during the 20s, and therefore the idea that someone could try and recreate the experiments nowadays was both interesting and scary.  The writing itself felt quite punchy, short sentences added to the pace and kept me turning the pages. The descriptions of the killings are pretty atmospheric and you can feel the terror the victims go through.
One slight issue I had with this novel was that I wasn’t struck on the lead detective. As usual in detective fiction he had lots of issues having recently lost his parents and his wife. I felt that there was a bit too much concentrating on this rather than the actual crime. Personally I’m one of those people who is more interested in the story than the background so at times I found this a bit distracting, which wasn’t helped by my lack of patience as I just wanted to get on with the search for the murderer.
I found the setting of Liverpool to be very interesting as it’s a city I’ve visited a few times and enjoy. To anyone who knows the city the descriptions of places are obvious, but they manage to walk that fine line between describing too much detail and not setting the scene properly.
Overall I would say this was a very good debut novel that is well worth a read and I will definitely be looking out for future novels by Luca Vesta next time I’m bulk buying in Waterstones.

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The Dead Tracks by Tim Weaver – a review

Once again me and my kindle (someone should write a song about that) have been out and about, this time reading The Dead Tracks by Tim Weaver. This is the first of his novels I’ve read although the second he has written. In the Dead Tracks a girl is missing and her parent’s employ widower Raker to help find her. As this is obviously a crime book, she’s not the only missing girl,there are lots of suspects and there is a serial killer involved.

I thought this was another good story that was a great introduction to this author. However I did feel that it slightly lost its way towards the end. The ‘who’ of the ‘who dunnit’ was quite predictable, although the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ were not. There were a lot of potential suspects throughout the book which I did feel was an issue and almost a bit farcical.

It seemed to be heavily influenced by films, for example Silence of the Lambs, and Seven, both had echos of their plot lines in this. They are both however, very good films so that is not a criticism although it does make for a bit of confusion at times if you don’t concentrate properly. I did think though that the overall story was qute interesting and original.

Tim Weaver is talking in ‘Drawing the Line’, where authors apparently describe their struggles with morality. This was quite a descriptive book, with some blood and gore which I do like in a crime book. It involves a Russian Mafia type group so it was never going to be a nice fireside rom com (which would have been very disappointing!) so I can see how he fits into that particular session.

I would definitely want to pick up his first book, and I think that would help to understand Raker and his background, and maybe garner some sympathy for him (which I found myself distinctly lacking) Yet to me this book just seemed a little bit too long, and I suspect that a bit of firmer editing would have changed it from good to excellent.

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