The Fifth to Die

The Fifth to Die

by J. D. Barker


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544973978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Series: A 4MK Thriller Series
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 189,060
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

J. D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of The Fourth Monkey, as well as Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. He has also been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula.

Read an Excerpt

Day 1 • 8:23 p.m.

It swirled around him deep and thick, eating the light and leaving nothing behind but an inky void. A fog choked his thoughts—the words tried to come together, tried to form a cohesive sentence, to find meaning, but the moment they seemed close, they were swallowed up and gone, replaced by a growing sense of dread, a feeling of heaviness—his body sinking into the murky depths of a long-forgotten body of water.

Moist scent.



Sam Porter wanted to open his eyes.

Had to open his eyes.

They fought him though, held tight.

His head ached, throbbed.

A pulsing pain behind his right ear—at his temple too.

“Try not to move, Sam. Wouldn’t want you to get sick.”

The voice was distant, muffled, familiar.

Porter was lying down.

Cold steel beneath the tips of his fingers.

He remembered the shot then. A needle at the base of his neck, a quick stab, cold liquid rushing under his skin into the muscle, then—

Porter forced his eyes to open, the heavy lids fighting him. Dry, burning.

He tried to rub them, his right hand reaching out only to be pulled back when the chain at his wrist went taut.

His breath caught, and he forced himself to a sitting position, his head spinning as the blood rushed out. He almost fell back.

“Whoa, easy, Sam. The etorphine will work out of your system quickly now that you’re awake. Just give it a minute.”

A light blinked on, a bright halogen aimed squarely at his face. Porter squinted but refused to look away, his eyes fixed on the man beside the light, the dull, shadowed shape.

“Bishop?” Porter barely recognized his own voice, the dry gravel of it.

“How you been, Sam?” The shadow took a step to his right, turned over an empty five-gallon paint bucket, and sat.

“Get that damn light out of my eyes.”

Porter yanked at the chain on his wrist—the other end of the handcuffs rattled around a thick pipe—water, maybe gas. “What the fuck is this?”

Anson Bishop reached over to the light and turned it slightly to the left. A shop light, mounted on some kind of stand. The light struck a cinder-block wall with a water heater in the far corner, an old washer and dryer along the far side.


Porter tugged at the chain again.

Bishop gave him a half smile and shrugged.

The last time Porter saw him, his hair was dark brown and close cropped. It was longer now, and lighter, unruly. Three or four days of scruff marred his face. His business casual attire was gone, replaced by jeans and a dark gray hoodie.

“You’re looking a little ratty,” Porter said.

“Desperate times.”

He couldn’t change his eyes, the coldness behind them.

His eyes never changed.

Bishop pulled a small spoon out of his back pocket, a grapefruit spoon, and twirled it absent-mindedly between his fingers, the serrated edge catching the light.

Porter didn’t acknowledge the utensil. Instead, he looked down, tapping the metal beneath him with his index finger. “Is this the same kind of gurney you chained Emory to?”

“More or less.”

“Couldn’t find a cot?”

“Cots break.”

A dark red stain pooled out from under the gurney, a deep blemish on the filthy concrete floor. Porter didn’t ask about that. His fingers came away sticky after touching the underside of the metal. He didn’t ask about that, either. A few shelves lined the wall to his left, stacked full with random painting supplies—cans, brushes, tarps. The ceiling above was constructed of wood, two-by-six boards spaced about sixteen inches apart. Exposed electrical wiring, water pipes, and air ducts filled the space between. “This is a residential basement. Not a big house. Older, though. That pipe above your head is shielded in asbestos, so I wouldn’t recommend chewing on it. I’m guessing the place is abandoned, because your light there is plugged in to an extension cord running upstairs to . . . what, some kind of battery pack? Not a generator. We’d hear that. You didn’t bother with any of these plugs along the wall, so that tells me the power isn’t on in this place. It’s also cold as balls. I can see my breath, so the heat isn’t on. Again, that points to an abandoned house. Nobody wants to risk frozen pipes.”

Bishop appeared pleased with this, a thin smile edging his lips.

Porter continued. “Wall to wall, this house is fairly narrow. That suggests a shotgun home. Considering you wouldn’t want to be in one of the trendier neighborhoods where residents have Starbucks, the Internet, and tend to report known felons to the police on sight, I’d say you’re more likely to stick to the West Side. Maybe someplace like Wood Street. A lot of empty houses on Wood.”

With his free hand, Porter reached for his gun under his thick coat but found only the empty holster. His cell phone was gone too.

“Always the cop.”

Wood Street was a good fifteen-minute drive without traffic from his apartment on Wabash, and Porter had been a block from his house when he felt the stab at his neck. Of course, this was all a complete guess, but Porter wanted to keep Bishop talking. The more he talked, the less he thought about that spoon.

The throbbing in Porter’s head settled behind his right eye.

“Aren’t you going to try and convince me to turn myself in? How you can spare me from the death penalty if I cooperate?”


This time Bishop did smile. “Hey, you want to see something?”

Porter would have said no, but he knew whatever he said didn’t really matter. This man had a plan in mind, a purpose. Snatching a Chicago Metro detective off the street was not a risk one would take without a good reason.

He could feel his key ring in his right front pocket. Bishop had left it when he took his gun and phone. He had a handcuff key on his key ring, and most handcuffs took the same key. While he was a rookie, he was told this was because the person who cuffed a perp most likely wouldn’t be the same person who would later uncuff the perp. A suspect could easily be transferred two or three times during booking. That in mind, they were taught to take away keys when patting someone down, all keys. Any criminal worth their salt owned their own handcuff key on the off chance some rookie forgot to check. Porter would have to remove the key ring from his right pocket, somehow maneuver it to his left hand, unlock the handcuffs, and take down Bishop before the man could cross the five feet that separated them.

The man didn’t appear to have a weapon, only a spoon.

“Eyes front, Sam,” Bishop said.

Porter turned back to him.

Bishop stood up and crossed the basement to a small table next to the washing machine. He returned to his seat, carrying a small wooden box with Porter’s Glock sitting on top. He set the gun down on the floor beside him and thumbed the latch on the box, opening the lid.

Six eyeballs stared up at Porter from the red velvet lining inside.

Bishop’s past victims.

Porter looked down at the gun.

“Eyes front,” Bishop repeated with a soft chuckle.

This wasn’t right. Bishop always followed the same pattern. He would remove his victims’ ear, then the eyes, followed by the tongue, and mail each to the victim’s family along with a note in a white box tied off with a black string. Always. He never deviated from this. He didn’t keep trophies. He believed he was punishing the family for some wrong they committed. Twisted vigilante justice. He didn’t keep the eyes. He never kept the—

“We’d better get started. “Bishop ran his hand over the top of the box, a loving caress, then set it down on the floor beside the gun and held the spoon up to the light.

Porter rolled off the gurney, crying out when the metal of the handcuff tore into the flesh of his wrist, the pipe pulled back. He tried to ignore the pain and awkwardly shoved his left hand down into his right pocket to retrieve the keys while also kicking the gurney in Bishop’s direction. His fingers slipped over the keys as Bishop dodged the gurney and thrust his leg out, impacting Porter’s left shin.

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The Fifth to Die 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Quitterstrip More than 1 year ago
Sam Porter can’t catch a break. The events from four months ago haunt his dreams; only this time he’s the victim. The only thing grounding him to reality is a new homicide case. A missing girl is found dead- frozen solid in a lagoon. But details are not matching up. The ice is too crystal clear, and the deceased loos as though she were posed. Everyone is thinking it, yet no one admits it; Is The Four Monkey Killer (4MK) back- and if he is, why has he changed his method? Porter is unable to let the original case go. He’s convinced that something is missing. So much so that he has left out 4MK’s diary from the evidence log and has started his own little conspiracy theory timeline in his apartment. Convinced that his dreams are trying to tell him something, Porter steals the file of 4MK’s fifth victim. When the FBI notices the file is missing they insist searching Porter’s apartment- completely unprepared for the madness inside. As punishment, Porter’s captain demotes him from the case and puts him on a seven day leave of absence. Flying below radar, Porter feels as though he can pursue his hunch further; fueled by a handwritten note and a grainy photo by 4MK tucked into his mail. This inevitable motivates Porter on a wild goose chase tracking down 4MK’s mother and the childhood home mentioned in the diary. Meanwhile, what’s left of the homicide team, works closely with the FBI piecing together this new serial killer, and attempting to rule out if 4MK has completely changed tactics. This time there is no pretty packages tied up with string. Officers are finding in tact bodies of young girls frozen and posed. Medical examiners confirms these girls drowned in salt water and were resuscitated multiple times before they were no longer needed. Shortly after the girls are found, a parent is also discovered in a grisly death. What starts out as looking completely random, slowly turns to methodical thinking as the body count rises. The real question is why is this happening, and how is this connected to 4MK. . . and where is Porter? Barker once again dangles a carrot right in front of the reader’s face. You are so concentrated on what’s right in front of you that you miss what’s changing in the surrounding information. Just when you think he’s shown all his cards, Barker has a pocket ace up his sleeve.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Held me to the page. Thrilling and cannt wait for the next book.
Barnseys_Books More than 1 year ago
The first book in this series, The Fourth Monkey, was one of my favourite novels of 2017. It was quite simply fabulous and in a class of its own. J.D. Barker had created a brilliant and utterly terrifying monster - psychopath Anson Bishop. This left me wondering if the second installment, The Fifth To Die, would cut the mustard. Well, let me tell you it does; with bells and whistles galore! Old characters are revisited and a caboodle of newcomers introduced. There are shocks and twists aplenty as the plot hurtles along at full pelt. There's so much happening it's impossible to take a breath or slow down. Author J.D. Barker certainly knows how to capture an audience and leave them gasping. His writing is faultless and a pleasure to read. How is it even possible to squeeze so much talent into one man? He really is that good! A word of advice though - it's crucial to read the first book before starting the second. This isn't intended to be read as a standalone and you won't be able to 'pick it up' as you go along. The third installment is due in late 2019 and if the first two are anything to go by, it'll be a killer (literally!).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
4th Monkey, 5th to Die-cannot wait for the next! It has been a while since I have been surprised while reading. How fantastic to pick these up!
HowUsefulItIs More than 1 year ago
My Experience: I started reading The Fifth to Die on 8/13/18 and finished it on 8/24/18. This book is a fascinating read, especially following the police force with their investigations and the IT guy! I love the ice explanation and how the killer take extra time to commit such heinous acts in public places. I enjoy the humor between Porter and Nash, and even with the medical examiner Eisley. Each chapter is a heart pounding read and left you with a cliffhanger. A new chapter begins and the results is not what you thought it would be. It happened more than once for me. Definitely a read you could hardly put down. (There’s just one part I can’t handle and it’s following Lili’s thoughts. I can’t handle reading about her torture.) This book is told in the third person point of view following Detective Porter, well known for his role in chasing the serial killer 4MK, as he and his partner Nash are on their way to a crime scene, an aftermath of a 15 year old girl, Ella Reynolds who went missing after school. Late that night, Detective Porter receives a call regarding another missing girl named Lili Davies. The dead girl found under the ice happens to wear the same clothes as the new missing girl. Readers will also follow Lili Davies, told in third person point of view as a victim. Many other point of views are of Clair, Poole, and Nash, fellow Detectives investigating the crimes and there’s views for the killer(s) too and other victims as well. Book 1 left off where the killer got in touch with Detective Porter to ask Porter to return him a favor. This sequel picks up with more intensity and a bigger puzzle to solve. The Fifth to Die is very well written and developed. All of the characters has personalities you couldn’t help but want to read all about what they have to say. I love reading the detective work and how they are looking for clues, connections, and trails left behind by the killer. This story is big and deals with many characters and victims. I would recommend to read the duology back to back to keep up with the flow. I like the mystery and suspense. I like how smart the characters are: the police, the killers, and the victims and yet the killer seems to stay half a step ahead. Despite the disturbing tortures, reading this book is most interesting because I get to follow many clever thoughts and work through many tough problems with the police. Love the twists! I most definitely recommend everyone to read this duology (there will be a book 3 due to a major cliffhanger at the end of book 2), just beware of torturing though. Pro: past paced, page turner, adrenaline rush, suspense, mystery, couldn’t put down, humor, investigation Con: victims torture is more than I can handle; disturbing I rate it 5 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to the author J.D. Barker, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at for more details
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All the right stuff.. Enjoyed the fast pace. Now have to wait for next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Page turner!
CrazyCat_Alex More than 1 year ago
Evil has a name: Anson Bishop. He is smart, ruthless, a manipulator and liar. How is it possible to tell the truth from all the lies. He has all the knowledge and everyone else scatters around and tries to keep up. He kills without hesitation and remorse. Can it really be so easy for som people to murder a child? And in this book, the parents haven't even done anything criminal. They just did their jobs. And then there is poor Sam Porter. He has no idea (still) what's going on. Maybe, he did, in the end, have some clue. But being suspended from his police work, thought of as partner of 4MK by the FBI, the whole book he tries to end the nightmare created by Bishop. Being betrayed by somebody he thought of as becoming a friend, having a connection with. Porter wants nothing more than to bring Bishop in and find some peace, In the end though, he has to let him go - again. I absolutely loved this book. An intense ride from the start 'til the last sentence. Everything tied up in the end and that is something I like in a story. There is a wide range in personalities too: Some I liked, some I was fooled by too, some I really couldn't stand. Can't wait 'til the next book coming out and solving the riddle that is Anson Bishop.
booklover- More than 1 year ago
This is a cleverly written complex story following the first in this series ... THE FOURTH MONKEY. Detective Sam Porter and his team are called to investigate when the body of a young girl is found beneath frozen water. She's identified as a woman who went missing 3 weeks ago ,, but she's wearing the clothes of another girl, missing just days. The water froze months how did this happen? At the same time, Porter is secretly still hunting the Four Monkey Killer, contrary to the orders of the FBI. When Porter's boss finds out what he's been doing, he is promptly suspended and his partners Clair and Nash are left to hunt for the new killer. This one is action-packed, fast-paced with lots of activity going in all directions. I highly recommend reading THE FOURTH MONKEY before tackling this one .... the two stories are intertwined. The characters are credible, the crimes are credible and it's a fascinating look at crime fiction. It's a riveting, engaging story and I found it hard to put down for any amount of time. Many thanks to the author / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / #TheFifthToDie #NetGalley / Edelweiss for the advanced digital copy of this crime thriller. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
readers_retreat More than 1 year ago
After reading "The Fourth Monkey" last summer and been totally blown away, I literally danced around the room when I secured an advanced copy of the second book in the series entitled "The Fifth to Die". Honestly, this series just gets better and better! I cannot praise J. D. Barker highly enough for producing these books - so far this is my best read of 2018, I really cannot see that changing by the time we are approaching 2019! When I finished "The Fourth Monkey" at around a similar time last year, I was concerned as to how I would be able to manage/cope having to wait an entire year for the follow-up but eventually it passed and here we are! The original concept behind #4MK is based on the Japanese principle of the three wise monkeys - see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura), and speak no evil (Iwazura). The fourth monkey was a little more elusive and is known as... do no evil (Shizaru). This principle of the three monkeys plus one, plays a significant role in this series and the plot in general. It is how the killer "justifies" the lives he snuffs out. I would say, if you haven't read The Fourth Monkey (4MK #1) yet then go and grab a copy quick sharp! If you are a fan of thrillers that feature twisted, deviant, serial killers, then what are you waiting for!? Okay, so the plot of "The Fifth to Die" is just as amazing as 4MK #1, I can report. If you enjoyed book one then you'll rapidly feast on this, too! The only thing that REALLY disappointed and saddened me you ask? The speed at which I got through it and realised that it was all over until the next one is penned! J. D. Barker has us hanging on his every word now. It's insane but I love it! In "The Fifth to Die", the 4MK storyline from book one is continued but with a whole new case on the horizon, too. Porter and his team have been pulled from hunting Anson Bishop AKA The Fourth Monkey Killer, by the feds. There's a mysterious and disturbing new case to investigate as the body of little Ella Reynolds is discovered beneath the ice of the Jackson Park Lagoon. She had been missing for three weeks. There are some very strange facts to go along with this body - How did Ella get there? The lagoon had spent the past few months frozen. Even more baffling? She is found wearing the clothing of another girl, missing less than two days. So, how exactly do these oddities relate to one another? You'll have to read it to find out! I promise, you'll thank me later! It was clear from the series opener that Porter was hellbent on learning more about Bishop - including such information as... his childhood and formative years and how they may have impacted on him, his family and personal relationships, his mindset including the justification he has for killing specific people. Quite early on it seems like Porter had become fixated on 4MK but this just added more depth to the plot. I enjoyed the concurrently running investigations. I liked the way the case of Ella Reynolds death and the search for Anson Bishop are woven together and in the end are intertwined completely. Barker has exceeded my uber-high expectations by creating an even more grisly, gory and horrifying thrill -ride! Once again, I loved the dynamics between the main characters Porter, Clair and Nash - it's great to see them developing as a team as well as individuals - Barker has created characters I can relate to and that are truly memorable. Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC.
whatsbetterthanbooks More than 1 year ago
Intricate, creepy, and dark! The Fifth to Die is a brilliantly crafted, gritty, riveting thriller that takes you on a hunt for a kidnapper with a fondness for saltwater and continues the pursuit for a sadistic serial killer with a penchant for retribution and body parts. The writing is precise, eerie, and seamless. The characterization is spot on with characters that are driven, reckless and flawed, including the tenacious and tough Detective Porter whose greatest struggles involve his grief, secrets, and obsessions. And the plot is a violent, twisty, tension-filled thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish and leaves you absolutely speechless and wanting more. Overall, The Fifth to Die is an intelligent, gripping, exceptionally fast-paced police procedural that highlights Barker's extraordinary imagination and talent as a spine-chilling storyteller. It's the second novel in the 4MK Thriller series, and I have to recommend that if you haven't already read The Fourth Monkey (4MK Thriller #1), you really have to.
Rosemary-Standeven More than 1 year ago
It is not essential to have first read “The Fourth Monkey”, but it will certainly help explain the way that the story progresses. Essentially, there are two stories here – one needs prior knowledge, the other can (almost) stand alone. The 4MK case is still open, as the killer, Anson Bishop, is still at large. That case has been taken over by the FBI. The former 4MK team – Porter, Clair, Nash and Kloz – are now dealing with a new young girl abduction and murder investigation, started when Ella Reynolds is found frozen beneath ice in a lake. Porter – the resident 4MK expert – is certain that the two cases are unrelated, as the MO is quite different, and no 4MK signature boxes of body parts have been found. Soon, more young girls go missing, but nothing seems to link the abductees. Although the story is generally very serious and the crimes abhorrent, there are moments of (much appreciated) humour – usually occurring when Nash and Kloz are together – especially when they are in Nash’s car: ““Connie has seen better days, but I’ll get her back to prom-queen status. It’s just going to take a little work.” Kloz’s hands stopped moving, and he stared at him. “You’re creeping me … out right now. I’m serious. I’m getting a Christine vibe from you, and that didn’t end well for anyone, not even the car.”. Keep an eye out for the Neil Diamond episode. Each of the chapters is headed with the name or designation of the main protagonist of that part of the tale – police or FBI investigator, abductor or abductee – and all are written in the third person, except Anson Bishop’s diary entries (in chapters helpfully titled Diary). So, the reader has (or believes they have) an omniscient view of the story as it unfolds, receiving little clues before the police and then watching how the investigators piece everything together. Because of this overview, the reader is lulled into a smug know-it-all daze. But then, suddenly, 4MK takes over and a nice little police procedural goes full-on thriller, and all bets are off. Twists of increasing magnitude appear, and the story you are reading is not the one you started with. At this point, you are really pleased you did read “The Fourth Monkey” first! The book is very well put together, and keeps you enthralled right to the end. However, the end is what I had a problem with – hence the 4 stars, rather than the 5 which the rest of the book probably deserves. I came away rather unsatisfied – but very glad I read the book. Hopefully there will be more to come. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Amys_Bookshelf_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Absolutely thrilling I read the previous book, The Fourth Monkey, and enjoyed it as well, so I definitely had high hopes for this one. I was definitely not disappointed. The story has definite twists and turns and brings a thrilling mystery that needs to be solved. Porter is one of those characters that has depth, and secrets, and is very determined, to solve his case, no matter how dark he needs to dive. It's a very intense book but I couldn't put it down until the very end.