The Fourth Monkey – J. D. Barker – #blogtour

I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour today for The Fourth Monkey, written by J. D. Barker and published by Harlequin UK. Many thanks also to Maxine Groves of Booklover Catlady Publicity.

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize 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 on the 4MK task force, 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, unraveling 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 (Jonathan Dylan Barker) is an international bestselling American author who’s work has been broadly described as suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural. Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

MY REVIEW: I would like to thank J. D. Barker, Harlequin UK and Maxine Groves of Booklover Catlady Publicity for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC of The Fourth Monkey prior to taking part and being a stop on the blog tour. I can confirm that I chose to read this ARC and all opinions in this review are my own and are completely unbiased.

Well, what can I say??? We are 5mths into 2017 and I’ve just finished my 41st book in the shape of The Fourth Monkey and so far this year, this has GOT to be the best read of them all – wow, completely and utterly 100% mind blowing!!!

Told through alternating chapters between a serial killer (which is actually his diary and it is freaking scary, chilling and will give you goose bumps!), his victims and the police who are trying to track him down, The Fourth Monkey left me chilled to the bone. There isn’t a chapter that is empty and void of action, there is always something going on. I found myself finishing one chapter and just speeding on to the next. I never wanted to leave it or put it down.

The depth and intensity of the description throughout the entire book is so immense my eyes were glued to each and every page. The detail that J. D. Barker pushes into the story is spine tingling. All the time I just couldn’t help but imagine it happening in real life – it made me shudder. ‘Sick’ doesn’t come close but to us avid readers, it is soooooo what we want to read.

The flow of the story is perfect and with a twist I didn’t see coming at all, this is one heck of a story I just know is going to win many awards as well as being the talk of many literature led conversations this year.

Overall, The Fourth Monkey for me will be hard to beat and not just this month or this year, but for a long time. It is one seriously corrupt and vile minded read – I LOVED IT!!! The trouble is … what on earth do I read next???? What can beat this? No matter what I pick up, it’s going to be down beat in comparison.

Now, J. D. Barker … where’s the next instalment?

I am very lucky to be interviewing J.D. Barker today as part of my blog tour stop for The Fourth Monkey.

Hi J.D., thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? A little bit about me (canned stuff) – International best selling author Jeffery Deaver called me, “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind!”

I’m a lucky guy. After writing my debut novel in 2014 (FORSAKEN), Stephen King read portions of it prior to publication and was kind enough to allow me to use one of his characters in the story (Leland Gaunt of Needful Things). I’m not aware of him ever doing this for someone else, it was a great honor. Although indie-published, the novel went on to hit some major milestones – #2 on Audible (I got stuck behind Harper Lee who wasn’t about to give up the #1 slot), #44 on Amazon US, #2 on Amazon CA, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Honors Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in co-authoring a prequel to Dracula based on Bram’s original notes! Of course, I said yes. The book is going out to publishers in June 2017.

My debut thriller, THE FOURTH MONKEY, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide and will be published by HMH here in the states 6/2017, HarperCollins in the UK, and a series of others throughout the world. It’s about a serial killer in Chicago but with a major twist – the killer dies in the first chapter, hours after kidnapping his latest victim, and the police have to race the clock to try and find her based on the handful of evidence the killer left behind. He also taunts the police and readers from the grave with a diary weaved within the tale detailing just how he became a killer in the first place. It’s a fast, suspense-filled thriller geared toward mass market which has earned comparisons to Dexter, Se7en, and Silence of the Lambs. THE FOURTH MONKEY was recently optioned for film and television.

I spent the bulk of my adult life working as a ghost-writer and book doctor, helping others get published. That experience allowed me to learn what works and what doesn’t before venturing out on my own. Forsaken was my first novel published under my own name, The Fourth Monkey will be my second, and the Dracula prequel will follow. As a writer, I’m walking the line between suspense and thrillers with all efforts geared toward the largest possible audience.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? World domination, of course! I write, a lot. If the publishers permit, I can easily put out 2-3 novels each year. I’m hoping readers will follow me across genres. FORSAKEN was horror, THE FOURTH MONKEY is a thriller, and the DRACULA prequel falls somewhere in between. I think the underlying theme in my work is suspense. Hopefully readers will ignore some of these labels and simply pick up my books when in search of a good story and find what they’re looking for.

What is your most recent novel? THE FOURTH MONKEY releases worldwide June 27th, 2017. There is also a feature film and television program in the works. The story follows Detective Sam Porter as he hunts the Four Monkey Killer (See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil, DO no evil). Unlike most serial killer novels, our killer dies in the first chapter. Yet, the action escalates. It’s a fun read and I had a ball writing these characters.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? The true star of this book is 4MK (the killer). I honestly think when people turn that last page, they will sympathize with him, some may even root for him, regardless of the horrific acts he may have committed in the past. He will draw you close and make you question just who is guilty and who is innocent.

What genre are your books? I bounce around between horror, thrillers, and science fiction. The underlying thread though is suspense with a dash of creepy.

What draws you to this genre? I’m a sucker for a good story, the genre really doesn’t matter to me. I read just about anything from romance, to westerns, and the most graphic of horror. I just re-read GREAT EXPECTATIONS. My appetite for words can be schizophrenic.

When did you decide to become a writer? Writing has always been a part of my life. In school, writing related classes carried me. In college, I paid the bills by interviewing celebrities for newspapers and magazines. After that, I became a book doctor, helping others fine-tune their words and ultimately get published. I like to think of all this as my training ground for where I am now and what is to come.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? Although I absolutely love every second of it, I treat this as if it were a full-time job. I’m at my desk by 8 a.m. Normally, I write until about noon. Afternoons are spent editing and marketing. My dog (Siberian Husky) collects me at 4 p.m. and takes me for a walk. We usually do around five miles. I try to use that time to think about the next day’s writing – where I left off, what comes next, so I can hit the ground running again the next day.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? I typically average around 2-3,000 words per day. My absolute minimum is 1,000. I usually write six days per week, including holidays.

Where do your ideas come from? Oh, hell if I know. Ideas pop up at the oddest times. I keep a notepad document on my phone and write them all down. When you get an idea in the middle of the night, you will not remember it in the morning. Always write them down. When it’s time to start a new book, I take a look at the list and go with the one that jumps out at me. Usually, while I’m writing my current project, I’m plotting out ideas for the next one. Ideas can be found everywhere, you just have to look. Try adding “what if” to any scenario. What if the person sitting next to you at Starbucks popped up on the television and was wanted by the police? What if your taxi driver ignored you and started off in the opposite direction you’re supposed to go? What if a new voicemail popped up on your phone from someone you knew died years earlier? What if you came home to find an entirely different family living in your house? What if you then looked at your driver’s license and the name didn’t match the name you thought belonged to you? What if…

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? I do a little bit of both. I always have a beginning, middle, and end in mind. I may also know a few of the major plot points I have to hit along the way, but I let the characters tell the story. I personally believe that if a novel is plotted out in detail, meaning the author knows how it all fits together, the subconscious mind of the readers can figure it out too. Stephen King once said that if he doesn’t know where the story is going, nobody else will guess either. I agree 100% with that.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? Depending on the length, usually three to four months for a solid first draft. I edit as I go and work out most problems along the way so I can knock out revisions quickly. I wasn’t always this quick, though. My first book took me a few years. As with anything, it gets easier with practice.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I try to challenge myself with each project. Try something knew. I’ve written extremely complicated plot lines and very basic stories too. THE FOURTH MONKEY takes place over the course of a few days, FORSAKEN did too. With my current project, I’m spanning years just to try something knew.

Do you read much and if so which writers inspire you? I do read a lot. At any given moment, I’m usually in the middle of a couple print books, a Kindle book, and an audio book. I try to stay on top of what is current as well as go back and re-read the classics and books I’ve enjoyed in the past. Thomas Harris is a personal favorite – I’ve read all his books more times than I can count. I revisit them every few years. I’ve read every Stephen King book and everything Dean Koontz has put out too. I also try to read outside my favorite genres occasionally. I read not only for the entertainment of it but to further my own craft. Every book has something to offer.

What is your favourite book and why? Oh, this is tough. I have many favorites for different reasons, I don’t know where to start. If I had to pick an absolute favorite (today) I’d probably go with JOYLAND by Stephen King. The story itself isn’t anything remarkable – about a boy working at an amusement park – but something in that tale really resonates with me. I think it’s perfectly crafted from start to finish and flows effortlessly. As a reader, I hope a book will be good enough to make me forget I’m reading, just completely immerse me in the story, this is one of those books. GREAT EXPECTATIONS is another. For flat-out horror, I’d probably go with THE EXORCIST or JAWS. FIRST BLOOD by David Morrell is another great book. If your only exposure to Rambo has been Stallone on film, pick up this book.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Keep at it. Write every day. I was working 60-80 hours/week when I knocked out my first novel. All you need to do is 250-300 words/day and you’ll have a first draft in under a year. If you do write every day, you’ll find it’s far easier than if you take breaks. I also don’t get up from my chair unless I know what my next sentence is going to be. If you write until the well runs dry, you’ll find yourself staring at blank screen for many hours waiting for that next push of inspiration. By knowing what comes next, your subconscious will continue to work on the story during your off hours and when you sit down for your next writing session, you’ll find it much easier to hit that daily word goal. Once you complete a draft, don’t immediately upload it to Amazon and hit the publish button. If you decide to take the indie route, remember who your competition is – pay an editor, get beta readers, get a professional cover. If you decide to go the traditional route, I’d still do all the above. Multiple professionals pick through my manuscripts before I send them off to my editors. I try to get them as close to perfect as possible. In the indie world, this will separate you from the people who don’t. In the traditional world it means higher advances and less changes by your editors. In both, it means people will come back for more and you’ll get the chance to tell that next story.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? Pre-order people! Whether it’s THE FOURTH MONKEY or the next book by your favorite author, try to pre-order the title. In my case, I want to show the world that an author can come out of the indie world and hit the bestseller lists. I can’t do that without your help. I’ll need to sell around 8,000 copies in the first week in order to hit that goal. Every pre-order goes toward the first week of sales. I had no idea how important pre-orders were until I started to analyze the metrics. If you plan to buy a particular book, and it’s available for pre-order, don’t wait, scoop it up. Not only are you helping the author, but in many cases this will guarantee you the best possible price. In the coming years, you’re going to see some deep discounts on pre-order titles then at launch, they’ll go back to full price. If you pre-order on sites like Amazon, you’re guaranteed the lowest pre-order price. So, if you pre-order at $14.99 and the publisher reduces to $9.99 a week later, you’ll get the lower price. I know it can be tough to buy something today when you won’t get it until tomorrow but if it will save you some money and help your favorite authors, why not?

How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Twitter: (hashtag #4MK )
Amazon Author Page:

If you would like to follow The Fourth Monkey Blog Tour, you can do so at the following dates:

If you feel lucky and would love to be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of The Fourth Monkey then click here OR if you would love to be in with a chance to be a character in an upcoming book, click here.

Amazon UK: click here


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