About The Author:
J.D. Barker (Jonathan Dylan Barker) is an international bestselling American author whose work has been broadly described as suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural.
The Fifth to Die is your latest bestselling thriller, and the second book in your 4MK series. Can you tell us a bit about the story?
The Fifth to Die picks up about four months after the events in The Fourth Monkey. The body of a young girl, missing three weeks, is found frozen in the lagoon at a Chicago park – a lagoon that has been frozen solid for months. Even more perplexing? She’s found wearing the clothing of another girl who only disappeared a few days earlier. Having been removed from the hunt for 4MK by the feds, Sam Porter and team pick up the new investigation. Unwilling to give up the chase for 4MK, Sam continues on his own. When his supervisors find out, he’s suspended. More obsessed than ever, he follows a single grainy photograph to the streets of New Orleans where he quickly discovers the only thing more frightening than the mind of a killer is the mind of the mother from whom he was born.
Fair warning – pick up this book and you won’t put it down until the last page!
Is there a character in The Fifth to Die that you’re most sympathetic towards? Why?
It’s so tough to weigh in on questions like this without giving away a spoiler or two. This second book continues Sam’s dive into 4MK’s backstory. More of a slide, really. It’s difficult not to sympathise with him, though. As with The Fourth Monkey, I think some readers will also find themselves feeling a little something for the bad guy. After all, there really isn’t any such thing as good or evil, we’re all shades of grey somewhere in between. 4MK may do some horrible things, but there are reasons for his actions and readers may find themselves siding with the killer. It’s okay, nobody’s judging you. I won’t tell anyone.
You’ve been writing thrillers for a number of years. Is there anything you’d like to see more of or less of in the thriller genre?
I think many thriller authors get caught up in a certain formula and tend to repeat that formula. Some of their books tend to feel a lot like their previous books. I’d like to see people take more chances. Try a little something uncomfortable. Something different. If you’re going to use something cliché or a known trope, don’t be afraid to twist it on its head.
You syndicated a newspaper column in the 90s about haunted places, and you’ve also touched on the supernatural in a few of your works. What are some real life supernatural stories that have stayed with you?
I spent a lot of nights in so called ‘haunted’ places – bars, hotels, restaurants, homes – and rarely found anything of note. In most cases, the hype was created by the owners in order to drum up business. That actually changed when I stayed at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, the hotel that inspired King to write The Shining. My wife and I were reading in bed shortly after sunrise and the bed just started vibrating. We both looked at each other, then tried to figure out the cause. I looked under the bed, around the bed; the entire time it did it (nearly a minute). Only the bed was shaking, nothing else in the room. It stopped as abruptly as it started. The manager simply told us, ‘Yeah, that happens here.’
And finally, just because we’re always on the lookout for great new titles – what are you reading at the moment?
Dean Koontz was kind enough to send me an advance copy of The Forbidden Door. I am completely addicted to his Jane Hawk series. For anyone who hasn’t read it yet, start at the beginning and get ready for the kind of literary suspense ride only Koontz can deliver!