Book Club Discussion Questions – The Fifth to Die

  1. Initially, the drowning victims did not appear to be connected to 4MK. Were you surprised to learn that Anson Bishop was helping the man in the black knit cap? Do you think he was helping purely out of friendship, or was it part of a bigger plan?
  2. While at the first crime scene, Porter thinks: “Self-preservation and fear are two of the strongest instincts of the human condition.” Discuss why Porter wouldn’t want to meet the man who possessed neither.
  3. Originally, 4MK tortured and killed the children of the people he deemed evil, making the children suffer in death so the parents would suffer forevermore in life. Now, he and the man in the black knit cap tortured / killed the children of those they deemed evil, but also killed the parent. Why do you think the modus operandi changed? Why kill the parent and end their suffering?
  4. Detective Porter became obsessed with finding 4MK. What did you think about Porter going out on his own to search for Bishop’s mother? Discuss how “obsession” can affect a person’s judgment.
  5. We see the symbol of a Figure 8, or Infinity symbol, come up several times in this book. Emory Connors, Jacob Kittner and Jane Doe all had this symbol tattooed on their wrists. What do you think this symbol signifies?
  6. How did you feel when you found out that Bishop’s Diary contained “little white lies”? Discuss how unreliable narrators can change the tone of the story. Does it create a sense of intrigue?
  7. Toward the end of the book, we find out that Bishop’s father is still alive. Why do you think Bishop lied about his father’s death?
  8. 4MK is always one step ahead of the police. What are your theories on how he is able to accomplish this?
  9. When Porter brought Jane Doe and the woman he knew as Sarah Werner to the Guyon Hotel, Bishop says “I want to thank you for bringing Mother to me, Sam. Finicky as well. Two birds.” What do you think Bishop’s intentions are with his mother?
  10. A lot of questions surround 4MK’s fifth victim, Barbara McInley. Discuss what makes her case different from the others.
  11. After discovering Libby McInley’s body, Klozowski suggested that it may not have been Bishop who killed Libby after all, but rather it might have been Bishop’s mother who killed her. What do you think about Kloz’s theory? Do you think Mother has an agenda of her own?
  12. Porter spent a lot of time with the woman he knew as Sarah Werner. Was there any indication she was not who she pretended to be? Did Porter miss any signs?
  13. Written on the walls inside the Drop House were poems with certain words underlined: ice, water, life, death, Home, fear, and death, along with: “You can’t play God without being acquainted with the devil.” Discuss what you think these words and quotes mean and how they are significant to the case?
  14. Do you think it is ironic that 4MK is intolerant of those who ‘do evil’, yet his actions are considered evil by others?
  15. The original 4MK task force has been split-up, with Porter on suspension and the others investigating separate leads in the case. Discuss the importance of working together as a team as well as the difficulties faced when the team members are divided.
  16. The Diary entries in this book begin when young Anson Bishop is in therapy at Camden Treatment Center. Dr. Oglesby believed that Bishop had previously been taking antipsychotic medication. Discuss whether that fact would change how you feel about Bishop’s character and/or his behavior.
  17. We discover that Porter’s name is on the deed to the property with the lake and two houses in Simpsonville, SC. We also see old photos of Porter with a young Anson Bishop. Discuss how you think Porter is connected to this case?
  18. In a partnership, ‘trust’ is paramount. How do you think Nash feels when Porter’s history and suspicious activities start coming to light? Will he be able to remain objective with regard to his partner?
  19. The last Diary entry links many people from Bishop’s childhood to the current case. How do you think they factor into 4MK’s ultimate plan?
  20. The ending of this book leaves the reader with many unanswered questions. How do you feel about cliffhangers like this one? Discuss any theories you may have about the next book and how you think the story will progress.


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