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Well-Written, Haunting, Insanely Addictive: Review of The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker

August 9, 2018

After the success of his previous novel The Fourth Monkey, J.D. Barker has returned with another riveting crime thriller that is bound to have you gripped from start to finish.

Anson Bishop, the notorious ‘Four Monkey Killer’ who tormented and tortured the people of Chicago, is still on the loose. Detective Porter knows the man better than anyone else, having been assigned to the case and also narrowly surviving a bloody encounter with the killer himself – an experience that continues to traumatise and haunt him.

The FBI has now taken over the case and relieved Detective Porter of his duties – and whilst Porter may be distanced from the case at work, by night the killer still haunts his nightmares. The case has taken a heavy toll on the detective – he has become obsessed, and isn’t quite himself.

There’s no time for Detective Porter to process his trauma, however, because a new case desperately needs his attention. The body of a young girl, Ella Reynolds, has been found perfectly preserved in a frozen lake. But things don’t quite add up – for one, Ella isn’t wearing her own clothes; she’s wearing clothes that belong to another young girl who has gone missing, Lili. To make matters more confusing, the placement of the body is baffling. The lake has been frozen over for months – how did someone manage to perfectly place the body inside the ice? And why has the killer gone to such great lengths to make sure the body was perfectly visible, and would definitely be found?

As Detective Porter searches desperately for Lili, he finds himself being inexplicably drawn towards Anson, who continues to torture his victims and send their dismembered body parts to their family members in the post.

Against the orders of his superiors, Detective Porter begins to help with the Anson case. Armed with only two pieces of evidence: a grainy photograph of a female prisoner and a note from Anson saying ‘Help me find my mother. I think it’s time me and her talked,’ Porter travels from Chicago to New Orleans, where he stumbles upon a world far darker and more sinister than anything he ever could have possibly imagined. Because what’s the only thing scarier than the mind of a serial killer? The mind of the mother that created him.

J.D. Barker has a remarkable talent for writing crime. The Fifth To Die is expertly crafted, with twists and turns that not only keep you engaged throughout the entire novel, but also leave you desperately wanting more, hungrily devouring the pages so you can quickly see how it all ends.

A stand out feature of J.D. Barker’s novels is his characters – they are thoughtfully developed and nuanced, which is often uncharacteristic of the crime genre. Detective Porter has emotional depth that is almost unheard of in male crime protagonists – he is deeply impacted by the Anson case, and readers get a glimpse into the emotional labour and energy that is expended when one is tasked with catching a killer. Anson is an entirely different ball-game altogether – completely sadistic and unnerving, he is a character that simultaneously repulses you and draws you in closer, making you want to know more about why he commits these terrible crimes.

Of particular interest is the way J.D. Barker delves deeper into the psyche of the killer, exploring why Anson is the way he is. The killer’s mother plays a critical role in the story-line, begging the question – is evil nature or nurture? Are people born killers, or are killers made?

A masterful work of mystery and suspense, The Fifth To Die will have you gripping the pages until your knuckles are white. We recommend you pair this read with a good glass of wine – you’ll need it.

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.

Purchase a copy of The Fifth To Die here 






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