The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker #BookReview

The Fifth to Die def


In the midst of one of the worst winters Chicago has seen in years, the body of missing teenager Ella Reynolds is discovered under the surface of a frozen lake.

She’s been missing for three weeks… the lake froze over three months ago.

Detective Sam Porter and his team are brought in to investigate but it’s not long before another girl goes missing. The press believes the serial killer, Anson Bishop, has struck again but Porter knows differently. The deaths are too different, there’s a new killer on the loose.

Porter however is distracted. He’s still haunted by Bishop and his victims, even after the FBI have removed him from the case. His only leads: a picture of a female prisoner and a note from Bishop: ‘Help me find my mother. I think it’s time she and I talked.’

As more girls go missing and Porter’s team race to stop the body count rising, Porter disappears to track down Bishop’s mother and discover that the only place scarier than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

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I’m reading some incredible novels this year and this rollercoaster of a read is definitely one of them. This is such an amazing series, you’re missing out if you’ve not sprung on the wagon!

There are not one, not two but three very different angles of investigation in The Fifth to Die that made this an extremely tense and high-speed read, where new things were constantly discovered and really keep the ball on rolling. Sam, the lead detective of the first novel, is on his own fairly soon when someone sets him up and they pull him off the case. He doesn’t start twiddling his thumbs though but continues on his own and follows a small lead that makes him team up with an unexpected but very welcome new sidekick who isn’t a detective. It really brakes the mould of so many clichés and I enjoyed their interactions very much. Then there’s FBI man Poole looking into the information about the Fourth Monkey Killer again and everything Sam left behind and finally the third team consists of Nash, Clair and IT guy Klotz who have technology and resources on their side.

Even with all this manpower splashed about, catching this guy who’s abducting girls is not evident at all. They believe they know the identity of the guy but where he is or determining why he’s doing it is unclear. The scenes of the girls held captive were soooo scary and disturbing. I looooved reading them and witnessing the different reactions but was equally horrified when reading about what they had to endure (nothing sexual thankfully although I wouldn’t boast about the alternative either).

I’m going to stop right here because it’s impossible to describe how wonderfully complex and cleverly plotted this novel was. It was very puzzling but so engaging to read that I did not want to end my reading sessions. So the only reason I didn’t give it five stars is because I was left with so many unanswered questions at the end of this novel and I mean big, important, fundamental questions that were there the whole time. I really don’t have a choice but to read the third (and final?) part of this series and I’m all too willing to do so but I wish it had given me some answers at least. You see things unfold in this novel but I can’t wait to hear the explanation of the why’s and how’s to so many questions I have.

If you’re interested in reading this novel then you definitely have to read The Fifth Monkey first. This is a trilogy where you have to start with the first novel, you simply can’t drop in mid-story, there’s too much backstory and character development that is detrimental to understanding and enjoying the sequel to the fullest. The diary entries of the first novel for example play an important role in The Fifth to Die as well and some of it suddenly seems different than before. You also can’t – I repeat – can’t walk away from this story after you finished this one. This was a crazily addictive read to me and J.D. Barker has so earned his stripes for me as a horror/thriller writer. I wish I could  read book 3 already!

I received a free copy of this novel from Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for my honest opinion.


32 thoughts on “The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker #BookReview

  1. Yay! I’m SO happy you enjoyed this one as well! The series is easily one of my favorite new discoveries this year. Although the wait for the next book is going to be pretty painful… What a cliffhanger ending! Wonderful review. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review!
    I didn’t know this series, but it sounds like i should have 😀
    I also haven’t read many crime/thriller stories from series where the story continues in the follow up book in such way that you basically feel like a book is unfinished without it. Linwood Barclay had a trilogy of sort which was like that and i thought it was great, so i shall give this one a go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah that’s great to hear! You’re not going to regret it if you decide to read his books! It’s just that you won’t know exactly who The Fourth Monkey killer is in this novel because you really get to know him in the first novel, it’s his story (through diary entries), and I think it’s necessary to connect to the story by knowing him first. Difficult to explain, you just have to take my word for it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Aaaaah, *squeals with joy* I am soooo happy the sequel knocked it out of the park and I got so excited reading your review because I can’t wait to read this one myself now.. and also brace myself for all those mysteries that we won’t know the answers for until book #3 🙂
    Fabulous review, Inge!


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