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In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

A 4MK Thriller.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

Bestselling author J.D. Barker carved some time out of his busy schedule to meet with The Big Thrill and discuss the fourth installment of his 4MK series, THE FIFTH TO DIE:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Frankly, I’m just looking to entertain. No big moral message there or deep enlightenment hidden between the pages. If they come away wondering anything, it will be, “can a serial killer be made” if raised under the proper set of circumstances?

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

Because of my background in horror, I believe I add a unique twist to the thriller genre. I break from formulas and use expected tropes as a means to misdirect readers.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

The world isn’t black and white. People aren’t good or evil. We all exist somewhere in the gray between. At the end of my last book, many readers found themselves siding with the killer. With THE FIFTH TO DIE, we learn why.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

Like The Fourth Monkey, THE FIFTH TO DIE is loaded with Easter Eggs, little clues that offer insight into the overall story arch of the three book series. From the writing on the cover to the dedication, everything means something.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris are my personal favorites. All for the same reason – They manage to draw me in, I forget I’m reading, and just get immersed in the story. I’m chasing that with everything I write.


J.D. Barker is the internationally bestselling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Debut and the winner of the New Apple Medalist Honors Award. He has also been asked by the Stoker family to co-author the forthcoming prequel to Dracula. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, and their daughter, Ember.

To learn more about J.D., please visit his website.