“The Fifth To Die” (4MK Thriller #2)- J.D. Barker

It is never a good idea to bring your work home with you, but when a human life is on the line it becomes acceptable. For a homicide detective, what separates duty from obsession?


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 look 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.


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“While many of the thumbtacks centered on Chicago, they went as far as Brazil and Moscow.” – excerpt from “The Fifth To Die” by J.D. Barker

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.

“I think I found her.” -B excerpt from “The Fifth To Die” by J.D. Barker

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?

I don’t think I was quite over reading “The Fourth Monkey”. I was expecting more of the diary- something I looked forward to at the end of each chapter. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed to find that aspect missing in “The Fifth To Die”. With each passing chapter I found myself missing the ramblings of a very troubled child- weirdly enough, Barker makes you empathetic to a developing serial killer.

The diary however is somewhat forgotten as we are introduced to a new serial killer shrouded in more questions than answers. The biggest, unanswered question; Why is he doing this? To be clear, by the end of the book, that question is answered, but not as clearly as 4MK’s pretty little boxes in the first book.

In “The Fifth To Die” readers are forced to “puzzle it out” between the gruesome frozen murders, and Porter’s hunt for Bishop’s mom. Deciphering pieces of the diary separating fact from fiction.

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.

While “The Fifth To Die” did take me a bit longer to read than “The Fourth Monkey”, the last 50 pages of the book is what makes you fall deeper into the rabbit hole of what is Anson Bishop. Here I am, essentially “conspiracy theorizing” in my brain just like Sam Porter’s apartment. Again, if you don’t want spoilers, please don’t read my thoughts down below:


  1. At the end of the book, we (kind of) pick back up on a diary. It’s more of a journal after Anson was picked up from the fire at his childhood home. It WAS mentioned somewhere in the journal his mother was concerned he wasn’t taking his medicine anymore. It would have been a quick glance over to some readers, but I remember it well. This journal tells about his stay at Camden Treatment Center; what I take as a psychiatric ward.
  2. After not cooperating with the doctor, police move him to “the Finicky House for Wayward Children” where there are currently 8 foster children- Anson included. Lining the walls are hundreds of framed pictures of children that have been in and out of the home.
  3. What I find absolutely interesting, and I could be reading into a lot of things, is that infinity symbol tattooed on some of the characters wrists. It’s mentioned on Bishop, Upchurch, and Emory’s wrist. In the first book it’s described as a number 8 OR an infinity symbol. 8 foster kids. Anson’s surroundings finally feeling like a “family”. One of the “family members” has died, did Emory take her place? Like I said, I may be reading into things, but I think that infinity (or number 8 symbol) is playing a major role.
  4. The way Paul Upchurch is described. . .I cannot help but picture Snoke from Star Wars. #sorrynotsorry
  5. Not spoiling the ending of “The Fifth To Die”. . .but I still can’t get over that ending. When someone reads this book, can we please talk about it? ‘Cause I have no one to fangirl with.

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The Fifth To Die” by J.D. Barker will be available July 10th! This is the second book of the 4MK series. To fully appreciate this book, I 100% encourage you to start at the beginning  with “The Fourth Monkey”,otherwise the reader will be completely lost. I was chosen to receive an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. Given that fact, it has not altered my opinion on the book at all.


    • If you check out the previous post “The Fourth Monkey” it makes an exquisite transition into the second book here. Great thrillers!


    • Yes please! Check these out, start with the first one though as it sets it up. Let me know what you think too when you finish them!


    • Yes- the first book sets the whole thing up, but you can breeze through it in a day, I promise! Great thriller series with an anticipated third book.


  1. This is only the first to heard about this series and it sounds like a nice book to read I will definitely check this out and will also try to look on your first series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes- definitely check out the first book as that sets the series up. They are both quick weekend or beach reads.


  2. It sounds like you really enjoyed this book. You gave a thorough review but I like how there were no spoilers.


    • You’re welcome! Be sure to check out the first book in the series “The Fourth Monkey” before reading this one. Let me know what you think!


    • I’ll admit, being a mother, it’s rather hard reading certain books like this. But it’s like watching an intriguing CSI or SVU episode you just can’t look away from.


  3. I will let my husband know about this book. He hasn’t completed his 3rd quarter reading list yet. I am sure he will want to read the entire series.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book sounds like it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I like books that are difficult to put down especially since the story is so exciting and thrilling. I would love to take the time to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely pick these two books up then!! I’ll admit it is not my go-to genre, so I was pleasantly surprised I finished the first book in about 24 hours. It definitely won’t take you too long to get through, that’s for sure!


    • That’s exactly what I try to do- although there’s always a few more books I sneak in the pile. There’s a method to the madness.


  5. I haven’t read thrillers in such a long time, but this sounds like a good series. Thanks for the recommendation on where to start (“The Fourth Monkey”). Hope I’m able to pick this up soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t like reading a book a lot but this one looks like a nice and interesting books to read. I will also recommend this to my sister in law because she loves reading good book like this.


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