The Fourth Monkey

At some point, JD Barker followed me on Twitter, and I reciprocated. Through this exchange, I heard him discussing his book. So, I added it to my Amazon list and when the price dropped (sorry, man…I buy A LOT of books and can’t afford full price) I bought it, because why not? It sounded interesting, a police detective tries to solve a serial killer case, which is right up my alley.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, Porter (the cop), Emory (a teenage girl), Clair (only a couple chapters from her…another cop) and a diary. Porter is chasing a serial killer when he finally gets a break. The killer ends up dead, splattered by a bus. Sounds easy, right? The book follows a very twisty path of red herrings, various characters, plenty of bait and switch, and a few plot twists thrown into the mix. Normally, these types of narrative back and forths drive me nuts. And I admit that I knew something was up (it’s pretty easy to assume the mystery isn’t easily solved when you’ve only read 25% of the book), but I enjoyed my ride through the story.

The diary was the, um, best? part. It was a horrifying glimpse into the childhood of a killer, but it was shocking and kept me guessing. It was a bit disturbing at times, but I’ve read much worse. Right now, The Fourth Monkey and its sequel, The Fifth to Die, are $2.99 each on Amazon. I have pretty high expectations when it comes to creativity within a police procedural story, and this one hit the mark. Really enjoyed it.

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The Run of His Life: The People Vs. OJ Simpson

I was a recent high school graduate in June of 1994, trying to watch the NBA finals with my dad. He was a Knicks fan and was beside himself with anger that we were being forced to watch a white Bronco drive around Los Angeles. I wasn’t a Knicks fan and didn’t really care, so a car chase was fascinating. I knew who OJ Simpson was, mostly from commercials and the Naked Gun movies, but really had no idea how big of a football star he was. Or what he meant to the African-American community. I knew what he was accused of and had no idea whether or not he was guilty, but that would soon change.

I followed the trial half-heartedly. I was in college, very preoccupied with my freshman year, rarely watched the news, but I knew the trial was a gigantic mess. That was pretty clear just from the brief snippets of information I was receiving. The trial was taking much longer than expected, the prosecution wasn’t handling the witnesses well, and then there were the gloves. Anyone could see those gloves weren’t fitting, no matter how much Simpson “tried” to put them on. The case was close to being sunk. The final straw was the Fuhrman tapes. Clearly this man is a racist. The prosecution put him on the stand early in the trial. They didn’t have much of a choice considering he was one of the first detectives on the scene. However, when, at the end of the trial, tapes of him saying the most derogatory things were discovered, that was it. There was no way OJ was going to be convicted.

This book by Jeffrey Toobin does an excellent job presenting how ridiculous the prosecution was, how they completely bungled the trial, how brilliant Johnnie Cochran was as an attorney, how pathetic Robert Shapiro was, how desperate Judge Ito was for fame, and how OJ got away with murder. If you read the evidence against him- DNA blood evidence at the scene, in his car, on his socks at his house, his hair and fibers on the bodies, shoes prints at the scene matching ones he owned (very rare size 12…only 300 pairs sold in the US) cuts on his left hand, one glove at the scene one at his house….and don’t even mention that glove was planted, given the fact the police didn’t even know if OJ was in the country, let alone planting ALL the blood and fiber evidence- the evidence is BEYOND anything needed to convict a person. Toobin makes it very clear what side of the evidence he is on. He also makes it very clear to the reader. OJ is a murderer.