The Fifth To Die by #JDBarker

When girls go missing, later turning up dead in a different person’s clothes, the public suspects the MK4 killer has returned or is this a new madman stalking the streets of Chicago?

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The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker picks up just after the event of his previous book, The Fourth Monkey. The much loved characters from the first book have returned, although much battered after the events that transpired and with reputations tarnished after Bishop’s (aka the Fourth Monkey) escape. When the murdered girls begin appearing, while sadistic and horrifying, the murders do not have the same “MO” as The Fourth Monkey. Soon, however, Det. Porter sets off on his own “secret” mission to find Bishop by looking for his mother which, of course, will lead to disastrous and dubious results.

The Fourth Monkey was one of my favorite books for 2018 and ranks very high in my all-time favorites of all time. The writing was fresh, the characters were original. I loved the dialogue between the cops and between them and Bishop. It was the type of conversation that you know happens with cops but rarely is included in crime fiction. Knowing that I had high expectations for this follow-up, I tried to tamp down my excitement when I read The Fifth To Die. The second book is a series is always difficult to write, especially when following one as marvelous 4MK. However – don’t you just hate howevers – I was very disappointed in The Fifth To Die. 😦

While I knew that Porter was struggling after the death of his wife, his complete derailment was puzzling for me. Tiny “tells” that were so intriguing in the first book, were plodding in this second. Without giving anything away, there were certain characteristics about Bishop that made him the mad genius that he was – now many of those “facts” were called into question. Yes, I know that there is a storyline that Barker is following and “all will be revealed in the final book,” but to suspend belief in this book was more than I was willing to do. But the one thing that pushed me over the edge was the dialogue. It was so incredibly brilliant in the first book, yet in the second I wanted to put tape over their mouths just to get them to shut up. If Nash had called Clair “Clair Bear” once more, I would have stopped reading the book and series completely! In the era of the #metoomovement, you show me one female cop, regardless of circumstances outside the force, regardless of their relationship with their partner, who allows a male cop to call them by a “pet name” as belittling as this one IN PUBLIC! Not one. It is too hard to be a female cop in the first place, to keep your reputation in tact to allow this continue. It was infuriating.

There has been a lot of hype about the ending – it’s a cliff hanger. The ending didn’t bother me in the least. That is what cliff hangers do – leave you hanging, wanting more. I hope I want more but it is going to take a bit of time to get over my disappointment in this book. I love Barker’s writing. I’ve read his previous books; I’ve read his upcoming co-authored book, Dracul, and he really is a genius. But this one left me tattered, sad and disappointed.

Thank you to the author and to Maxine (Booklover Catlady) for my copy of this book. I apologize for taking so long to review – I read it three times hoping I would feel differently.

 

 

 

Hard Cider

Hard Cider is a meandering, tangled tale that takes you on an emotional path toward a beautiful resolution.

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Women’s Contemporary Fiction is not a genre into which I often delve. The scenarios in the book either are so far from my wheelhouse that I cannot relate, or they mirror my own problems so closely that there is no escape or joy in the reading for me. However, because I absolutely adore hard cider, I had to give this book a try. What a wonderful surprise I had in store for me within the covers of this book!

Abbie Rose Stone has retired from teaching, navigated the stormy seas of infertility, adoption, raising her somewhat eclectic family to adulthood and, now, is ready to begin the next chapter of her life – one of her own choosing – making hard cider. Neither her sons nor her husband are completely on board with Abbie’s plan, but this is her passion and something she wants to do, with or without their support. As she prepares her orchard, meets with other growers and learns her trade, she begins to feel confident in what she’s doing. That confidence, however, is threatened when a young woman comes to Abbie with a secret that could potentially destroy the tenuous threads of Abbie’s family.

When I began reading Hard Cider, I felt as though I was trapped in a maze that was going no where. There is a bit of skipping forward from one time to the next that left me rather confused. The author spends a great deal of time on minute daily details of Abby’s life and then skips entire months or years into the future. At first, this was frustrating; however, as I continued following along Abbie’s story, I found that this style worked really well. Not only did it work, the details and the flowing prose of Abbie’s thoughts, deeply pulled me into her life and that of her family. Soon realized that the conversations Abbie was having with her grown children were, in fact, some of the more difficult conversations I’ve had with my own adult kids. The messages she would tell herself in order to remain calm while discussing problems with her husband – yep, I had done, said and thought those things as well. Rather than boring me or pushing me to set the book aside as “too familiar” with my own life, I was further drawn into the story as I related more and more to Abbie and her life. I, too, began an “adventure” at mid-life, one that had no support from my immediate family. Watching as Abbie grew as a woman and as an entrepreneur helped me to see how I, too, could grow and change. It is, in essence, a “coming of age” story for women in the 21st century. It helped, too, that I love heirloom apples, cider making and hard cider because there is a lot of information about this process within the book which also highlights the incredible beauty of the Midwest that I have come to love so dearly.

I suspect that this might not be a great read for men; it is, after all, labeled as Contemporary Women’s Fiction. However, I would not categorize it as “chick lit” either. Hard Cider is a solidly written story about women, their strength, character and growth. It’s a short read, very enjoyable and one that I highly recommend.