The death of an elusive serial killer, who may have snatched one last victim before he died, sends Chicago cops on a mad dash to uncover his identity and unravel his bizarre crimes.
Chasing a killer for five years is a grind, especially one as wily as the self-proclaimed Four Monkey Killer, who, in a tired twist on the vigilante theme, chooses his (young, female) victims based on the sins of their family members. For Chicago homicide detective Sam Porter, the case is nearly as consuming as the personal issues that eat away at him as predictably as Barker’s (Forsaken, 2014) other telegraphed plot developments. When a man steps in front of a city bus, it seems like suicide until his personal effects are examined and it’s discovered that he’s carrying a box addressed to Arthur Talbot containing a human ear, later identified as belonging to Talbot’s daughter, Emory. That’s Four Monkey’s calling card: first the ear (hear no evil), then the eyes (see no evil), then the tongue (speak no evil), and finally the corpse (do no evil). Except it seems like the killer’s own corpse is now in a body bag. Porter also finds a diary on the body—which Barker heavily excerpts and which readers might wish could be excised like the killer excises body parts—that chronicles Four Monkey’s unusually gory upbringing. Along with his partner, a motley assortment of cookie-cutter cops, and a CSI expert named Watson, whose ability to rattle off facts rivals the supercomputer, Porter races to find Emory, growing increasingly unsure if Four Monkey is really dead.
Wipe away all the blood and you’re left with a dull, unsurprising serial killer tale.